Interior Minister speaks about the rise in crime
By Ana Robakidze
Friday, November 30
In a TV interview with Maestro TV Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili responded to questions about the recent spike in crime in Georgia. “There has possibly been an increase in the rate of petty theft, but there are objective reasons for this. The handover of power was peaceful, but not effective. It took some time to reshuffle stuff in the Interior Ministry. There was a vacuum of power, hence the increase in crime." Gharibashvili said.
The rate of minor crime has increased 50 % since the elections on October 1st but the new government does not find this alarming. “We managed to complete staff changes within three weeks." the Interior Minister commented before adding that law enforcement is still in control and will prosecute criminals accordingly.
In the same interview Gharibashvili claimed that recent increase in crime is further proof that the police were under heavy political influence during the previous administration. "During the transition of power the police leadership was lethargic and officers were not receiving any instructions from their superiors, hence the police became less effective." According to the minister the situation has drastically changed recently and the police activity has resumed to its normal level.
Gharibashvili added that the increase of minor crime has been caused by the increase of violence in the city parks and other public places in Tbilisi. Maintaining safety in public places of Tbilisi is the duty of the Security Services which are under the control of the Tbilisi Mayor's office. Gharibashvili promised that his ministry will regain the control over Tbilisi and restore absolute security for citizens.
Tbilisi City Hall replied to the Interior Minister's comments with a statement published on its official web-page. The statement reminds Gharibashvili that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for crime prevention, maintaining public order and responding to crime. The statements adds that trying to assign these duties to the Mayor's office or other branches of municipal government is a distortion of the facts.
Concerns about the rise in crime have emerged after an amnesty bill for inmates was proposed in Parliament. The preamble of the proposed amnesty bill states that, “The number of detained citizens has increased significantly and Georgia became one of the leading countries with regard to the number of prisoners. This trend is not in accordance with European values and the obligations which Georgia took to move closer to European standards of defense of human rights. As Georgia strives to move closer to Europe a one-time, contemporary and special measure that exempts from criminal responsibility and punishment certain categories of accused and condemned persons for certain crimes in the Criminal Code of Georgia shall be implemented.”
The bill was first proposed on November 12th and if approved approximately 5000 inmates will become eligible to apply for pre-term release while another 3000 inmates will be released immediately.
Gharibashvili is confident that if passed the amnesty bill will not lead to an increase in crime. “We take it [the amnesty bill] very seriously…all the decisions about it need to be balanced. We insured all risk and provided Parliament with our recommendations." the Interior Minister stated. If the recommendations are taken into consideration the list of inmates who can apply for amnesty will be significantly shortened.