Gov’t to Set Up State Inspector’s Service to Investigate Crimes Committed by Law Enforcers

A State Inspector’s Service will be established in Georgia to investigate alleged violations and offences committed by law enforcers.

The service will be controlled by Parliament, with a Head appointed by it to serve for a duration of five years.

According to the project initiated by the Justice Ministry, the State Inspector will also have the right to initiate an investigation into high-ranking officials, the only exceptions being the Chief Prosecutor, Minister of Internal Affairs and Head of State Security Service.

The State Inspector's Service will work in three main directions: investigating alleged ill-treatment, including torture, beating and other forms of treatment by law enforcers, protection of personal data and control of the principle of lawfulness in the process of secret investigations.

Once the new body is set up, it will be headed by Personal Data Protection Inspector Tamar Kaldani, who will deal with both personal data issues and alleged violations by law enforcers.

“This is a step forward, and civil society representatives have confirmed it. There will be no conflicts of interest, as the Personal Data Protraction Service in not affiliated with the law enforcement agencies,” Kaldani said.

Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani noted that the project includes international obligations undertaken under the Association Agreement with the European Union.

“If Parliament approves the bill, we will have an independent investigative structure,” she added.

Giorgi Gakharia, the Minister of Internal Affairs, said the new body will help the Ministry raise its competitiveness.

“This body will answer the challenges our country is facing now,” he noted.

However, Georgia’s Public Defender, Nino Lomjaria, has many questions about the new draft of the Justice Ministry, particularly “how the new service will avoid conflict of interest in the inspector's apparatus.”

“The Inspector will supervise covert investigative actions and personal data protection on the one hand, but will also be granted the right to conduct investigative actions. I wonder how the Inspector’s Office will monitor the personal data protection process itself,” Lomjaria said.

The opposition and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) had been calling on government to create such an independent investigative body; however, they say the announcement on setting up State Inspector’s Service was unexpected.

Last year, NGOs prepared a draft, according to which the new body would be impartial from any state agencies and headed by a commissioner elected for a seven-year term and who would be required to present a report to Parliament twice a year.

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

However, the bill presented by the government does not include the persecution and support of prosecution in court.

The NGOs and opposition believe the State Inspector will have limited authority, as persecution will still be the function of the law enforcement agencies.

Giorgi Tugushi from the parliamentary minority European Georgia, says the bill is faulty. He explained that the issue of creating an independent investigative body was raised because the Prosecutor’s Office could not comply with the demands of society to carry out transparent investigation.

“However, the new bill says the Inspector will have no right of persecution and the Prosecutor’s Office will be responsible for it, which is unacceptable,” he said.

Another opposition party, the United National Movement, says it is impossible that the new body be free from influence of the ruling party Georgian Dream’s (GD) and claim the ruling team made the decision unanimously, without consulting the opposition parties or the civil sector.

Thea Morrison

01 February 2018 19:33