On June 28, 2019, the Parliament of Georgia endorsed the bill initiated by MPs Mamuka Mdinaradze, Davit Matikashvili, Anri Okhanashvili, Vano Zardiashvili, Rati Ionatamishvili, and Goga Gulordava, postponing the launch of the investigative mandate of the State Inspector Service, for the fourth time, till November 1, 2019. Taking into consideration the processes preceding the adoption of the law, the statements made by the State Inspector and the documents requested by civil society organizations, it was expected that the lack of financial resources would be cited as the reason for the postponement. During a year, the government failed to provide funding for the logistical support and human resources of the State Inspector Service.
Since July 21, 2018 (the date of adoption of the Law on the State Inspector Service) until today, the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary, as well as the Public Defender of Georgia had been constantly and consistently arguing for and reminding responsible government agencies of the importance of launching an independent investigative mechanism timely and effectively.
An unconditional need for timely and effective initiation of the State Inspector Service became obvious amid alleged crimes committed by the law enforcement officers against protesters rallying outside the Parliament building on June 20-21 (a total of 305 persons were detained). The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has, reportedly, launched investigation under Article 333 (3)(b) of the Criminal Code of Georgia – the article, which would have fallen under the State Inspector Service’s purview had the financial resources been allocated in a timely manner.
The CSOs have been demanding the initiation of an independent investigative mechanism for years largely due to public mistrust towards and impunity of the law enforcement officers. According to our internal statistics, in 2017-2019, over 50 cases of misconduct have been detected and communicated to the Prosecutor’s Office. Yet, not a single person has been held accountable until now.
The Coalition deems it alarming that the Georgian government failed to meet legislative requirements and international commitments that resulted in postponing the launch of the independent investigative mechanism for the fourth time.
While calling for the prompt launch of the mechanism, we once again remind the society, as well as the executive and legislative bodies of Georgia of the shortcomings in the current legislative model of the State Inspector Service:
- The mandate of the Service – according to the law, the State Inspector has no authority to investigate the crimes potentially committed by the Interior Minister and the Head of State Security Service. The June 20 developments have made it clear that it is unjustified and illogical to exclude those persons from the mandate, who hold most powers and therefore, risks of abuse of power and exerting influence on the investigation are high.
- Competence of the Service – according to current legislation, the Prosecutor’s Office maintains the right to carry out criminal prosecution that significantly weakens the operational independence of the State Inspector Service. It is essential that the State Inspector Service carries out an investigation without prosecutorial oversight.
- Criminal cases subordinated to the Service – it is necessary to expand the list of criminal cases subordinated to the State Inspector Service and to remove those 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 Service for the cases where there is a risk of improperly qualifying a crime.