Improvements in the Georgian Police Force
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, October 8
In an interview given to the Russian News Agency RIA Novosti on October 6 the Minister of Interior Affairs of Georgia (MIA), Vano Merabishvili spoke on the importance of the ongoing reforms within the Government of Georgia. The crime figures have decreased to the extent that, according to the minister, no one has been kidnapped and killed in Georgia during the last 4-5 years. “It is impossible to reform one particular system and leave the others unchanged just like the whole human body needs appropriate treatment,” Merabishvili told the agency stressing that no one should be afraid of mistakes because mistakes can always be corrected if you behave honestly.
Saying it is not enough simply to rename a particular office but to improve the whole system, the Minister spoke of how the corrupt State Automobile Inspection (SAI) had been changed by the new faces confident in their chance to become good policemen. Such people, according to the Minister are being enrolled through the serious competition and never take bribes. “Professionalism is just a myth - there are no professionals in a corrupted system. If an employee thinks how to feed his family by bribing his chairman, his professionalism would then be worth zero,” Merabishvili said explaining that people with intellect and love for their jobs will work more effectively than a well-trained and experienced villain. “If it is what others call a ‘police state’ then I’m really proud that Georgia is a ‘police state’,” he added stressing that foreign languages, computerisation, etc. are all major parts of the education process aimed at raising qualifications among the police force.
To a question concerning the development process of the Georgian police, Merabishvili answered that reform is just one step towards continuous improvement. “Checking is always easy – but not enough,” the Minister said explaining that the General Inspection of the MIA is always aware of serious violations within the country but trust in people always raises their sense of responsibility. “General Inspection is not important - it’s more crucial that policemen should have pride and dignity,” Merabishvili said stressing that those who try to bribe others just try to look down on them. Stating none of his relatives have ever worked at MIA, Merabishvili stressed that he will have resigned before his ten-year-old son is old enough to serve with the MIA.
According to the Minister from next year it will no longer be necessary to carry a driving license in Georgia as the patrol police will be able to check drivers’ names in the computer database. “The less the Government is involved in private lives, the better society will be. All MIA paperwork is being transferred on-line,” explained Merabishvili to the media. On the question of RIA Novosti about the chance for Russian hackers to attack and break the system, Merabishvili answered that selecting the relevant information from millions of different sources is so difficult that the best way to hide something from others is to make it accessible.
Analyst Gia Khukhashvili spoke of the administrative reforms within the MIA to The Messenger explaining that the status of a “police state” is usually measured by the police’s engagement in the political processes. “Neither taking a bribe nor the bargains policemen may have can define the status of the police in Georgian political life. The patrol police may really be kind and attentive towards citizens but other units of the MIA have always actively provoked opposition representatives especially during election campaigns, trying to discharge them from all these processes,” Khukhashvili told The Messenger.
“The crime statistics introduced by the Minister have no particular meaning. Most of the audio and video recordings concerning criminal detentions are being released in the social networks by the police representatives. The number of people arrested during the Soviet era was generally minimal but it didn’t mean that people were safe,” the analyst said. He is concerned that the police in Georgia have been serving the interests of the authoritarian regime of the ruling political power rather than Georgian society.