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Ombudsman’s address over search and seizure procedure

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, January 14
An investigator’s decree will still be mandatory for search and seizure procedures. The decision was made at the Human Rights Committee session on December 13 following strong assessments of the Public Defender’s office, NGOs and opposition with regard to removing of the point from the law.

Removing the article from the law and permitting law-enforcers to undertake search and seizure procedures without the special decree in urgent situations was initiated by the Human Rights’ Committee of Parliament. The major argument of initiators was simplifying the fight against criminals without much bureaucracy.

Since the Ombudsman and NGOs opposed the amendment and described it as a step backwards, giving too much power to law-enforcement, the committee made a concession.

The head of the Human Rights Commission Eka Beselia stressed that the search and seizure rule would have been retained with its initial formulation.

“We offer to return to the issue after detailed analyses of the system to find better solutions,” Beselia said.

Member of the Parliamentary Majority Gedevan Popkhadze, who was one of the initiators of the amendment, also accepted the recent decision.

“However, I think that discussions must continue over this topic,” stated Popkhadze.

Member of the parliamentary majority Manana Kobakhidze said that no one should have the feeling that Parliament adopts laws restricting human rights.

At the moment, according to Article 120, police officers require a warrant before search and seizure procedure.

Earlier on December 13, the Public Defender of Georgia’s Office released a statement and evaluated possible changes negatively. The office asked the initiators to negotiate and cooperate on the amendments.

The ombudsman’s address reads that the absence of the investigator’s decree for carrying out search and seizure operations would have been taken as a violation of human rights. Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili said that even in the case of the decree there were some question marks and its absence would have caused more problems with regard to specifying whether such operations were really necessary or not.