The Parliament of Georgia postponed the activation of the investigative authority of the State Inspector’s Office for the fourth time
On June 28, 2019 the Parliament supported the bill initiated by MPs Mamuka Mdinaradze, Davit Matikashvili, Anri Okhanashvili, Vano Zardiashvili, Rati Ionatamishvili and Goga Gulordava calling off the activation of the investigative duties of the State Inspector’s Office for the fourth time, until November 1, 2019. Taking into account the processes preceding the adoption of the law, statements made by the State Inspector and documentation requested and studied by civil society organizations, it was expected that the lack of finances would become the reason for postponement. For a year the Government of Georgia did not provide funding for the Office’s logistical support and human resources.
Since July 21, 2018 (the date of adoption of the Law of Georgia on the State Inspector Service) until today, the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary together with the Public Defender’s Office was constantly and consistently arguing for and reminding responsible governmental institutions of the importance of activating the independent investigative mechanism promptly and effectively.
The events of June 20-21, 2019 that unfolded in front of the Parliament, and crimes allegedly committed by law enforcement officers in relation to the protestors during the rally, in the process of and after their arrest (305 protestors were arrested), have once again raised the unconditional importance of the prompt and effective launch of the State Inspector’s Office. According to the news, the Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation under Clause B of the 3rd Section of Article 333rd of the Criminal Code of Georgia, i.e. a crime which would have been in the investigative scope of the State Inspector’s Office if the law had been enacted on time and supported financially.
Civil society organizations have been demanding the initiation of this mechanism for years due to the lack of trust in society and impunity of the law-enforcement officers. According to the available statistics in the years of 2017-2019 more than 50 cases of officer misconduct were detected and communicated to the Prosecutor’s Office. Yet no verdict was reached on any of the cases until now.
The Coalition finds the failure of the Government of Georgia to meet the legislative requirements and international obligations, because of which activation of the independent investigative mechanism was postponed for the fourth time, alarming.
While calling for prompt activation of the mechanism, we would like to once again remind the society as well as the legislative and the executive bodies of the country about the shortcomings of the current legislative model of the State Inspector Service:
- Mandate of the Office – the legislation in force fully excludes an authority to investigate crimes that can potentially be committed by a Minister of Interior Affairs and a Head of State Security Service from the State Inspector’s mandate. Events that unfolded on June 20 have revealed how groundless and illogical are the exclusion of individuals with the highest concentration of power and capable of abusing this power and influencing the investigation from the State Inspector’s mandate
- Competence of the Office – under the acting legislation, commencement of a criminal prosecution remains within the authority of the Prosecutor’s Office. This significantly weakens the operational independence of the State Inspector. At minimum, it is vital for the Office to carry an investigation independently without prosecutorial supervision.
- Types of offences investigated by the Office – It is essential to broaden the circle of offences listed in the Law of Georgia on the State Inspector’s Office that are subject to the Officer’s investigation and remove the stipulations that exclude a case from the scope of the new investigative body. Additionally, it is vital to grant superior jurisdiction to the State Inspector’s Office for cases where there is a risk of improperly qualifying a crime.