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25 Dec 2021

The State Inspector’s Service Submitted a Legislative Proposal to the Parliament of Georgia

 

In order to strengthen institutional capacities, increase independence and equip the State Inspector’s Service with effective legislative mechanisms, the State Inspector’s Service submitted a legislative proposal to the Parliament of Georgia.

The legislative proposal was prepared with the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Putting the independent investigative mechanism into motion in the form of the State Inspector’s Service by Georgia in 2019 was assessed as one of the most important steps in terms of human rights protection both at national and international levels. However, two-year work of the Investigative Department of the State Inspector’s Service revealed practical problems that need to be solved through legislation for further development of the Service and the conduct of an independent and effective investigation.

The current legislation does not provide adequate guarantees for the timely transfer of the case being investigated by another investigative agency to the State Inspector’s Service, which casts doubt on the effectiveness of the investigation, especially if the investigation is initiated by a law enforcement body whose employee is implicated in the alleged crime; In order to enter temporary detention isolators and penitentiary institutions to carry out investigative/procedural actions, the investigator of the Service needs to obtain permission of the respective institution in all individual cases which delays conduct of investigative actions and creates a risk of evidence destruction; Frequently, it is impossible to obtain video recordings from video cameras installed in law enforcement agencies (for example, in police stations), even if they are requested immediately and the storage period for the video recordings as established by official acts of the same agency is not expired; At the same time, state agencies often provide the information requested by the State Inspector’s Service with delays, which also delays and/or makes it impossible to obtain evidence; Timely receipt of the results of a forensic medical examination remains a challenge for the Service, which significantly hinders timely investigation; The mechanism of submission of a substantiated proposal by the State Inspector to the supervising prosecutor on the expediency of conducting an investigative / procedural action on the basis of a judge's decision is ineffective due to the unjustifiably prolonged time frame for its consideration; At the same time, the prosecutor is not obliged to substantiate the decision to reject the reasoned proposal of the State Inspector and the Deputy State Inspector, etc.

To address the above challenges, the State Inspector’s Service prepared a legislative proposal that comprises amendments to 14 legislative acts, including the Law of Georgia on the State Inspector’s Service, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Code of Administrative Offenses and the Law of Georgia on Police and the Organic Law on the Prosecutor's Office.

The State Inspector’s Service heard the views of the relevant government bodies, including the Public Defender’s Office, as well as the non-governmental sector, some of which were reflected in the proposal. 

The State Inspector’s Service applied to the Parliament of Georgia with a request to make the following important amendments to the legislation:

 

  •   Doctors, police officers, employees of the State Security Service and the "112" Public Security Management Center should be required by law to immediately inform the State Inspector in case of suspicion of torture, other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or other violent acts;

 

  •  Determine the obligation of a judge considering a case of an administrative offense to contact the State Inspector’s Service in case of suspicion of torture, other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or other violent actions by law enforcement officials during the consideration of the case;

 

  • Authorize the State Inspector to submit to the Prosecutor General a reasoned proposal on transferring a criminal case closely linked to the case being investigated by the State Inspector’s Service;

 

  • Determine the obligation of other investigative bodies to immediately ensure provision of the materials of the criminal case being investigated by the State Inspector Service at its request;

 

  • Reduce from 72 hours to 24 hours the period for consideration of a reasoned proposal of the State Inspector and the respective Deputy State Inspector by the supervising prosecutor and the Prosecutor General on the expediency of conducting investigative / procedural actions that should be carried out on the basis of the court decision;

 

  • Consider the responsibility of the supervising prosecutor and the Prosecutor General to substantiate a decision rejecting or partially satisfying the reasoned proposal of the State Inspector and the respective Deputy State Inspector;

 

  • Grant the Investigators of the State Inspector’s Service the right of unhindered access to temporary detention isolators without the permission of the head of the institution;

 

  • Set limited timeframe for submitting evidence to the State Inspector Service (10 working days) and oblige all persons and bodies to substantiate the refusal to submit evidence to the Service and / or provide the Service with information on the reasons for submitting evidence in violation of the timeframe;

 

  • Provide for the possibility of carrying out covert investigative actions on crimes falling under jurisdiction of the Service (Article 1442 (threat of torture) and Article 378, part 2 (obstruction of the activities of the penitentiary institution and / or disorganization of this activity));

  • Authorize the Service to conduct computer, video, phonoscopic and habitoscopic examination on criminal cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Service;

 

  •  Authorize the State Inspector’s Service to conduct qualification examinations for its investigators, etc.  

 

The developed legislative package responds to the legislative and practical challenges (discussed in detail in the 2020 activity report[1] submitted to the Georgian parliament on March 31, 2021), as well as recommendations put forward in the study “Independent Investigation Mechanism in Georgia - Achievements and Challenges”[2] - carried out by the non-governmental organizations - Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and the Social Justice Centre.   

 

International organizations also point to the need to support and strengthen the State Inspector’s Service. In particular, further institutional and functional strengthening of the Service is highlighted in the decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the Tsintsabadze Group of cases[3] in 2020, as well as in the recommendations made during the review of the report[4] on the national human rights situation in Georgia, carried out within the framework of the UN Universal Periodic Review on January 26, 2021.

 

The State Inspector’s Service hopes that the Parliament of Georgia will support the submitted legislative proposal and the institutional strengthening of the Service.

[1] https://stateinspector.ge/uploads/tinymce/documents/ENG_Personal_Data_2020.pdf

[2]https://stateinspector.ge/uploads/files/damoukidebelisagamodziebomeqanizmebisaqartveloshi.pdf

[3] https://hudoc.exec.coe.int/eng#{%22EXECIdentifier%22:[%22CM/Notes/1390/H46-10E%22]}

[4] https://undocs.org/A/HRC/47/15