NGOs Claim Georgia Needs Independent Investigative Body

Georgia-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have spoken out about the increased number of crimes allegedly committed by law enforcers, and are demanding the creation of an independent investigative mechanism as soon as possible.

The NGOs explain that the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) is unable to conduct a proper and fair investigation into the abuse of power of police officers or high-rank law enforcers because they are part of the same system.

The Criminal Justice Network, which unites 14 NGOs, conducted a study, according to which in 2014-2017, NGOs or the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Prosecutor’s Office 91 times regarding possible abuse of power by law enforcers.

However, the POG started persecution only in two cases, and the court delivered the verdict - not guilty.

Open Society- Georgia member Giorgi Burjanadze says the main problem is in the Prosecutor’s Office, saying it is necessary to urgently create an independent mechanism which will investigate only crimes and violations allegedly committed by law enforcers.

NGO Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) lawyer, Sopo Verdzeuli, says the POG will never be impartial while investigating crimes committed by policemen, adding there are question marks surrounding many such cases.

Eka Gigauri, Executive Director of the NGO Transparency International-Georgia, called on the government to accelerate the establishment of a such a body, adding that allegations of offences and violations committed by law enforcers have become more common recently.

The NGOs say the investigative mechanism should be absolutely independent from both the government and the POG.

According to the draft they prepared, the body will be headed by a commissioner, who will be elected for a seven-year term and who will be required to present a report to Parliament twice a year.

The commissioner will be approved when 3/5 of MPs (of the 150-seat legislative body) support the candidate.

The draft also reads that the investigative body should have three main functions: Investigation, persecution and support of the prosecution in court.

Parliamentary minority MP, Giorgi Tugushi, also supports the position of the NGOs, saying the work of the mechanism should be absolutely independent from the other law enforcement bodies, and its activities should be transparent.

“This body should have functional independence in order to really carry out effective and impartial investigation,” he said.

Majority MP Eka Beselia stated that discussions are underway within the ruling Georgian Dream party, adding they have not agreed on the issue yet.

“We should take into account the practice of the other countries. The Justice Ministry is working on the issue and we are waiting for their feedback,” Beselia explained.

Thea Morrison

18 January 2018 16:47