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Necessity of systemic reform in Chief Prosecutorís Office

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, September 30
Several days ago, the President of Georgia approved the package of amendments which envisaged the new rule of appointing and dismissing staff of the Chief Prosecutorís Office of Georgia.

However, the President stressed that elaborating the procedures on how to select or fire the Chief Prosecutor would not be enough for making the body fully resistant to political interventions.

The process of selecting the Chief Prosecutor really becomes more complicated.

The approved bill envisaged the creation of a 15-member Prosecutorial Council chaired by the Minister of Justice.

Eight members of the Council will be prosecutors elected by Conference of Prosecutors that is also a new body suggested through the bill.

Members of Parliament (MPs) will take two seats, one from the majority, one from the opposition.

Two remaining seats will go to civil society and academic field representatives. Two seats to judges from the High Council of Justice.

Based on the procedures the Minister of Justice selects three nominees after consulting with the civil sector and represents them before the Prosecutorial council.

Only one candidate should be approved by the Council with 2/3 of votes. In case of failure the Minister will have to name other candidates.

If selected, the single candidate goes before the Government. If rejected, the process of selecting the nominees starts again.

If endorsed, the following step is the legislative body. The Parliament should confirm the candidate by a simple majority that means at least 76 votes out of the 150 Ėseat Parliament.

However, wider reforms are required.

The Chief Prosecutorís Office has caused question marks to be raised both under the previous and current state leaderships.

Under the previous government, almost all the notions of the Prosecutorís Office were confirmed by the court. It was extremely easy for the body to achieve its goals.

There were several cases under the current Government of Georgia when the actions of the Prosecutorís Office raised questions concerning political persecution; among them were the cases against employees of the Ministries of Agriculture and Defence.

In both cases, the ministers of the bodies lost their jobs; the first one resigned whereas the second was fired despite the fact that the final verdict found the accused individuals innocent.

When it comes to former officials who are now in custody, the Prosecutorís office also failed to provide evidence in a timely manner against them and the people had to spent more than the legal 9 months in pre-trial detention.

This also raises questions over the agency, its independence and professionalism.

Meanwhile there are some analysts who stress that the Chief Prosecutorís Office is still full of employees of the previous government. They are in high posts and take steps to discredit the current government.

There are too many questions and only changing the rules of appointment will not help them. The office should see a complete reform beginning from staff to its rules, laws and regulations.

The current government gave many promises before the elections; reforming the law-enforcement bodies was one of the most prominent.

Many of their promises remained unfulfilled, though whether this will be yet another one remains to be seen.