The messenger logo

Ministry of Internal Affairs to open special division for minors’ issues in Tbilisi

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, December 27
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia will open a special division in Tbilisi in April 2020 which will be focused only on minors’ issues, Natia Mezvrishvili, the head of the prime minister’s office stated on December 26 after the meeting of Inter-Agency working group on Juvenile Justice and Education Challenges.

"Our task at the previous meeting was to present the set of first tasks which were to be resolved after the meeting as well as long term ones because the issue requires a systematic approach and it is not possible to eliminate systemic flaws within a week,” she explained.

According to Mezvrishvili, who previously served as deputy interior minister, the relevant infrastructure works have been solved and starting from April 2020, the investigators and managers specialized in minors’ issues will work in this division. The department will be equipped with video cameras that will accurately record the juvenile’s entry, exit and presence in general.

As for the long-term goal, Mezvrishvili named the idea of presenting the relevant plan in local units on how to implement a child-friendly and child-oriented environment in regions.

She also added that in the coming days the Ministry of Education will present an action plan about the roles of teachers, social workers and school personnel when an incident involving a minor takes place.

The Ministry of Justice will work on the Juvenile Justice Code. According to the code, the involvement of a lawyer as a juvenile witness is not mandatory during interrogation, but Mezvrishvili says that after these meetings the problem has arisen - that juveniles should be interrogated in the presence of human rights defenders.

According to the head of the gov’t administration, the work is underway with the Health Ministry to overcome the challenges related to social workers.

"In this section, we agreed that we have to respond to the challenges of social workers so that the Ministry of Social Affairs does not have a shortage. The Ministry of Health presents a concrete plan on this issue," she said.

She added that at the next inter-agency working group meeting, the MIA will present the guideline for investigators that instructs them on how to conduct investigations with minors.

"We are talking about the juvenile as a witness and the victim and the accused,” explained Mezvrishvili.

The interagency working group is headed by Natia Mezvrishvili, she says all agencies have exactly one week to submit relevant reports and the next meeting will be held on January 10. In the last session, Mezvrishvili called on the ministries to recognize the problems of juvenile safety and education. The four agencies received a systematic reform order from the prime minister on December 18.

On December 12, a teenager attempted suicide in Tbilisi. The incident preceded the questioning of a teenager at the police station as a witness in connection with the incident at Green School. According to the lawyer, during the interrogation, the teenager was subjected to psychological pressure. The teenager died in hospital on December 15.

Mariana Choloyan, an investigator in the case of the teenager, was arrested on December 15 and is held in custody.