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NGOs demand creation of independent investigative mechanism

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, February 23
Members of the government and the legislative body, representatives of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), representatives of embassies and independent experts discussed the issue of establishing an independent investigative service in Georgia at debates organized by the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF).

The draft law presented at the event was worked out by 20 NGOs and it envisages the creation of an independent investigative body, which will investigate only those crimes committed by law enforcement officials; it will be subordinated neither to the Prosecutor’s Office nor any ministry.

According to the OSGF, the investigation of serious human rights violations committed by members of law enforcement bodies have a different character, requiring additional guarantees for independence and transparency.

“Georgia does not have a separate body for investigating these kinds of violations, although there are number of successful models worldwide. The Government has decided to explore the possibility of establishing such a mechanism based on the recommendations of the Council of Europe (CoE), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Union and other international and local human rights monitoring organizations and also reflected this decision in its Human Rights Action Plan for 2014-2016,” reads the statement on the web page of the OGSF.

The executive Director of OSGF, Keti Khutsishvili, underlined that it is very important for Georgia to set up an independent investigative service to deal with systematic torture in penitentiary institutions.

“Ill-treatment and incidents of torture will be investigated properly only if the independent investigative body will have the right of prosecution,” she added.

Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili also supports this initiative, saying that the creation of such a service has always been included in his recommendations to the government over the last three years.

“We see that problems in this field still exist. Systemic crime requires systemic answers and the creation of this service will be an effective answer to ill-treatment and torture,” he stated.

The Minister of Corrections, Kakha Kakhishvili does not support the draft. He believes that the creation of additional institutions is not necessary, because the Prosecutor’s Office already has this function.

According to the Minister, there is no need for the creation of another institution, and the problems can be solved by strengthening independence within the existing investigative services.

“There are questions in society regarding internal investigation services, but they should be eliminated not by creating one more monster, but by strengthening the independence of the current models,” noted Kakhishvili.