Public Defender’s Statement on Illegal Deprivation of Juvenile’s Liberty

On February 14, 2020, the Public Defender of Georgia was informed about the illegal deprivation of liberty of a girl and an attempted forced marriage in the city of Marneuli.

Public Defender’s representatives are in constant communication with the minor and her family, as well as with relevant agencies to ensure that all measures are taken in the best interests of the girl. The firm position of the girl and her family regarding continuation of education is particularly important in this case.

The case has once again clearly shown the challenges relating to the protection of and assistance to minor victims of violence in Georgia. The observation carried out by the Public Defender and her representatives on the ground showed that the local law enforcement agency is not free of stereotypical attitudes, which is an essential hindrance to its effective functioning. This is particularly noteworthy for the protection of the rights situation of girls and women of ethnic minorities. Important challenges are the timely and effective communication between state agencies and provision of on-site services, which in some cases have been achieved through the Public Defender’s constant communication.

According to the Public Defender, in order to help the girl overcome the trauma and stress caused by the crime, special attention should be paid to the study and rehabilitation of her psycho-emotional situation with the involvement of professionals. At the same time, it is important to ensure that her right to education is exercised and a good environment is created in the educational institution.

It should be noted that timely and effective response to crimes of illicit deprivation of liberty and forced marriage remains a challenge in Georgia, which is often promoted by the prejudice and stereotypical attitudes towards ethnic minorities. Inappropriate response to similar cases encourages the offence and makes the perpetrators believe that they will not be held responsible. Therefore, timely implementation of appropriate measures by the law enforcement agencies during the investigation of the case is critically important both for the restoration of justice in this case and for the prevention of similar cases in the future.

The Public Defender calls on all relevant agencies, including local authorities, to ensure through coordination and cooperation that the juvenile be enrolled in public services, protect her best interests and make every effort to avoid similar incidents. In addition, the Public Defender considers that the media outlets should be guided by the best interests of the juvenile when covering the given case.

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