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NGOs Urge Gov’t to Accelerate Creation of Independent Investigative Body

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, January 17
(TBILISI)--Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in Georgia call on the government to accelerate creation of an independent investigative body that would focus solely on crimes committed by police and security officers.

The NGOs claim the lack of institutional independence while investigating crimes allegedly committed by law enforcement officials remains a challenge for Georgia.

Eka Gigauri, Executive Director of the NGO transparency International – Georgia, stated it is urgent to create such a body, adding the alleged offences and violations committed by the law enforcers have become more common recently.

Gigauri noted that the NGOs under the Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary prepared a relevant draft and sent it to the Justice Ministry for consideration.

“At the initial stage, we had communication with the Justice Ministry, but since then we have not had any consultations,” she added.

Gigauri added it is necessary the new body actually has such functions to effectively investigate the facts of violations committed by law enforcers.

She explained that there is a very low trust among the society towards the investigation of the crimes committed by law enforcers.

“Only creation of the independent investigative body is not enough. The main issue will be the functions of this body and its transparent work,” she added.

Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani announced three months ago that a draft resolution for the creation of an independent investigative mechanism would be finalized soon.

The draft law prepared proposes that a separate investigative body, independent of executive authorities, will have exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by law enforcement officials.

The newly created body will also have jurisdiction over any crime where a conflict of interest with the country’s law enforcement might arise during the investigation process or prosecution.

To ensure the legal and practical independence of the oversight committee, officials will have a mandate to unilaterally decide whether or not to initiate an investigation.

According to the new draft, the committee will be headed by an independent commissioner selected with the involvement of all three branches of the Georgian Government and civil society.

The post of commissioner will be elected by a 7-year term and be required to report to the Parliament twice a year.

Georgia’s former Public defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, whose term expired in December 2017, used to regularly stress on the importance of creating an independent investigative committee.

“This type of oversight body will be an answer to impunity and response to the systematic problems," said Nanuashvili.