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Justice Minister requires tightening of sanctions for false testimonies

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 11
Parliament is discussing a draft law concerning the rules of questioning witnesses with the first hearing, initiated by the Ministry of Justice.

According to the proposed amendments, it will be voluntary to appear at the Prosecutor’s Office for interrogation. However, if a witness refuses to be questioned at the Prosecutor’s Office and when there are facts or information that he/she has necessary information for determining circumstances of a criminal case, he/she will be questioned before a magistrate judge.

Some members of the ruling party and the minority do not agree with the initiative of the Justice Ministry. The members of the Legal Committee also have some comments on the issue.

According to a member of the Republicans and the Legal Committee, Tamar Kordzaia, there are several shortcomings in the draft law.

She noted that if the remarks of the Legal Committee are not considered, the Republicans will not support the draft.

Kordzaia listed the main shortcomings which she thinks should be improved. One is the absence of the defence side at the process of questioning the witness. Another is criminal prosecution against a witness for giving a contradictory testimony, who was summoned without the presence of the defence side.

“These notes will improve the Criminal Code and promote the principle of competitiveness during the criminal proceedings. We believe that the standard of questioning witnesses is quite low and this should be rectified,” she said.

Several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) also do not approve of the initiated project. They commented on the unequal conditions of the defence side and the prosecution.

It should be mentioned that Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili also released a statement in which he does not approve of the project and has several notes towards the initiators.

“This initiative puts the defence and prosecution in unequal conditions and cannot provide equality and competitiveness of the parties. The provision of equal conditions for the prosecution and the defence is essential for ensuring a fair system of criminal justice in compliance with international standards,” the Ombudsman’s statement reads.

According to the Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, the government wants to create a model which will protect the rights of the witness but also not take away leverage from the investigators and police to protect society.

“We demand that the witness, who will be questioned on a voluntary basis, be punished strictly in case he/she misleads the investigation or deceives the state. This happens the same way in all European countries,” stated Tsulukiani, and reiterated that the initiated reform aims to protect society from crime.