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NGOs Call for Justice System Fundamental Overhaul

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, June 4
Georgia based Non-Governmental Organizations have declared solidarity to the families of Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili and call on the government to entirely reform the justice system.

The NGOs say that “failure of the authorities to adequately respond to the ongoing developments” and thousands of people that have taken to the streets in protest, indicate to the country’s crisis.

On May 31, Tbilisi City Court delivered a controversial verdict on the high-profile case of the murder of two teenage boys on Khorava Street in central Tbilisi last year. The court found the two detained minors guilty for the murder case. One of the detainees was found guilty for premeditated murder of Levan Dadunashvili, while another detainee was found guilty for attempted murder of David Saralidze. The court could not say who killed Saralidze, which sparked mass protests in Tbilisi.

“The wave of public protest is not only about the problem of inadequate investigation of the Khorava Street incident, but more broadly, it is an expression against grievances, the unfair justice system and social policy,” the NGOs say.

The organizations believe that recent developments are caused by practices of political corruption and disregard of fundamental human rights in the system of law enforcement and the judiciary.

Non-governmental sector stressed political office holders, directly responsible for implementation of reforms in the field of criminal law and justice, failed to fulfill this function.

“Majority of reforms declared by the government in the system of law-enforcement and the judiciary has proven to be pro-forma and these reforms have done nothing to eliminate the public’s sense of deep injustice and vulnerability,” the statement of the NGOs reads, adding the recent high-profile cases have clearly shown the problem of “excessive use of authority by the law-enforcement.”

The organizations have offered the government a six-point action plan to eliminate systematic problems accumulated in the field of criminal law and justice. The NGOs call for:
1. Thorough and fair investigation and prosecution of the Khorava Street murder case.
2. Special Parliamentary investigative commission should not only concentrate on Khorava street incident but other similar cases too (e.g. Machalikashvili case, Mukhtarli case etc.)
3. Dismiss officials who failed to ensure implementation of consistent, meaningful and effective reforms in the field of criminal law and justice;
4. In the process of selection of the new Chief Prosecutor, ensure high public and NGO involvement, in order to allow selection of an unbiased candidate
5. create effective and meaningfully independent investigative mechanism that will investigate crimes and offences committed by law enforcers.
6. Launch a fundamental reform of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Interior Ministry and the State Security Service in an immediate manner.