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Georgia: Shevardnadze Invites Observers To Monitor Human Rights

By Anthony Wesolowsky

Tbilisi, 9 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze today invited human rights observers, including Russia's Sergei Kovalev, to visit the country and monitor human rights there.

In a national radio address, Shevardnadze said human rights advocates would see there are no political prisoners being detained in Georgia.

Late last month, the human rights group Amnesty International issued a report detailing its concerns about allegations of what it called persistent and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment in Georgia.

In its year end report, another human rights advocacy group said human rights progress in Georgia had stagnated this year. Human Rights Watch said abuses persist, among them torture and other forms of mistreatment in detention, arbitrary detention, appalling prison conditions, police corruption and use of the death sentence.

Yesterday, Georgia's Prosecutor General called for the gradual lifting of the death penalty. Recently, Georgian lawmakers have debated whether to rescind capital punishment in a bid to gain admittance to the Council of Europe. Shevardnadze is expected to make his views known on the matter soon.