By Dato Parulava
Georgia, a country where every third prisoner is serving time for drugs, may be about to transform its strict drug policy into a far more liberal system. Activists and reformers are hoping that new legislation could change Georgia’s system away from what they call ‘the war against the people’.
On 15 September 2016, a 46-year-old man slashed his own stomach outside the Georgian Government Chancellery, where dozens had gathered to protest the country’s drug policy. He claimed police had terrorised and pressured him into implicating his friend, a drug user, saying the investigation into his case would not be just.
In 2013, Beso Khutsishvili had just been released from prison where he had served 8 years on drugs charges. Several days after his release, 3 police officers took him to the police station demanding cooperation, he claims.
‘You must help us arrest Lasha Bakhutashvili, they said. Had I refused, they threatened the safety of my children. I didn’t care about myself, but when they mentioned my children… There was nothing human about them, they were totally capable of doing it’, Khutsishvili said, in a video published on 30 May 2016 by the White Noise Movement, a group campaigning for a softer drugs policy.
Khutsishvili says police would take him to the pharmacy to buy precursors, but he would cook the drugs and consume them immediately, to avoid implicating his friend. This continued for a month until he wasn’t able to avoid them any longer, and he was forced to implicate a friend, he explains.
Thumbnail: Flickr CC Matt B