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Coalition Responds to the Proposed Draft Legislation Creating the Investigative Department for Cases of Ill-Treatment

09.06.2017

The Coalition to Independent and Transparent Judiciary responds to the draft legislation that would create an investigative department for cases of ill-treatment at the Prosecutor’s Office rather than an independent investigative mechanism. The Coalition believes that this does not meet the minimum requirements for independence and transparency, and clearly demonstrates the government’s lack of political will to implement real reform.

The effective investigation of crimes committed by representatives of law enforcement bodies is a considerable challenge in Georgia. Investigation of this type of crime naturally has high risks of bias and ineffectiveness. It was precisely the inexistence of an independent and impartial investigative body that encouraged the overstepping of authority and ill-treatment throughout the law enforcement bodies. 

In recent years, numerous cases have been made public in which the persons detained or their representatives directly pointed to the overstepping of authority by representatives of law enforcement bodies:
On January 10, 2017, police arrested G.G.  at his home and he claims the police verbally and physically abused him. It is noteworthy that the ongoing investigation of this case is for overstepping authority by the police (Art. 333 of the Criminal Code), rather than for degrading and inhumane treatment (Art. 144 of the Criminal Code). The issue of launching criminal prosecution is still pending.

On February 16, 2017, police officers transferred Irakli Khoperia  to a police department and allegedly mistreated him. According to Khoperia, the police pressured him to confess to a crime he did not commit, threatening to plant drugs on him as they beat him. The investigation started a month after the incident, on March 15, 2017, but to date the issue of criminal responsibility has not been raised.

Regrettably the ineffective investigation of alleged ill-treatment by the police is not limited to the above cases, and the Ombudsman issued a special report on this subject in 2015. According to the Ombudsman’s 2016 annual report to Parliament, instances of bodily damages during or after detention are on the rise. The report states specifically that: “Criminal prosecution has not started on any of the cases of ill-treatment that were referred to the Ombudsman over the last four years.” An analysis conducted by the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association of the 21 cases of alleged ill-treatment that they litigated in 2013-2016, showed there were none in which a criminal prosecution was started and also points to ineffectiveness of the investigations. 

Against this background, the Interagency Coordination Council against Torture and other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment drafted legislative proposals that propose creating a new department within the Prosecutor’s Office.  This mechanism is the entirety of the reform that the Georgian government has been discussing with the civil society for years and which is part of the Association Agenda with the EU. The competence of investigating crimes committed by law enforcement is still staying in the hands of the same law enforcement representatives. This way of addressing the problem – creating a department within the hierarchy of the prosecution system – does not meet the demands of the international organizations and the public regarding the need for creating an independent and transparent mechanism.

Considering the above, the Coalition calls on:
The Interagency Coordination Council against Torture and other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:
 To ensure open discussion of this issue and the drafting of legislation oriented on real changes with the participation of all stakeholders.
The Parliament of Georgia:
 To initiate changes that ensure the creation of a structurally and conceptually independent mechanism in the country;
 To hold consultations with the public, civil society organizations and international actors on this issue.
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