Amendments to the Pardon Rule
On 26 November 2019, the President of Georgia approved a new pardon rule by order No 556. The new rule differs significantly from the old procedure and therefore, it is necessary to provide information to the public.
According to the new rule, the pardon case shall be prepared by the relevant service of the Administration of the President instead of the Pardon Commission. The service will be authorized to submit to the President:
- The case of a convict sentenced to imprisonment and life imprisonment
- The case of a convict, who is serving a prison sentence and part of his/her sentence has been counted as a suspended sentence
- Information about the convicts, who are not eligible to be submitted by the service to the President for consideration
In addition, the service shall not be able to appeal to the President with regard to the suspension of the criminal record of a convicted person, but the President still retains this prerogative. The President will still be able to decide whether or not to pardon a person at any stage of the pardon process, or without observing these requirements. The new rule does not make it possible to submit to the President the case of a convict:
- Who was convicted of two or more offences and has not served half of the sentence
- Who had enjoyed amnesty or pardon previously and committed a premeditated crime before the suspension of his/her criminal record and has not served 2/3 of his/her sentence to be served in a penitentiary institution
- Who is serving a sentence for a premeditated crime committed during the probation period determined by the court during the suspended sentence and has not served 2/3 of his/her sentence to be served in a penitentiary institution
- Who was released on parole and committed a premeditated crime before the suspension of his/her criminal record and has not served 2/3 of his/her sentence to be served in a penitentiary institution
- Whose case is pending in the common courts of all three instances or if the time-limit set by the law for appealing against the court’s decision to the higher instance court has not expired
- Who does not ask for a pardon
Accordingly, the new rule provides for the following changes:
- The factual prison term of the convict sentenced to life imprisonment increased from 15 to 20 years
- The factual prison term increased from 1/2 to 2/3s for those convicted of felony or extreme felony, or who had been convicted in the past and again committed premeditated crime before the suspension of their criminal record
- The factual prison term for convicts, who were sentenced to imprisonment for no more than five years, reduced from 1/3 to 1/4 of the sentence.
In addition, unlike the old rule, the negative description of the place of serving a sentence shall not exclude pardon. The service shall submit to the President the case of a convict, who was juvenile when committing an offence.
Under the new rule, the President shall, if necessary, consult with relevant state agencies and/or specialists before making a final decision on pardon. When making a decision on pardon, in addition to classical circumstances (purpose, motive, outcome of the crime, etc.) the President shall consider the following circumstances: ill-treatment, domestic crime, domestic violence, as well as an offence against a person with disability, child or a representative of other vulnerable groups; an offence against a police officer, investigator, prosecutor, judge or those involved in litigation, relating to the fulfillment of official or public duties by them; an offence committed by a law enforcement officer, who is serving a sentence for the violation of Article 2 or Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Under the new rule, non-issuance of a pardon order by the President shall be considered a refusal to grant a pardon. The mentioned information shall be sent to the penitentiary service, which shall inform the convict of the above.
The pardon case can be re-submitted to the President six months after the initial decision is made. In addition, a pardon request for individuals, whose cases were submitted to the Administration of the President from 1 October 2018 to 27 November 2019 and for which a pardon order will not be issued until 1 January 2020, shall be considered upon re-submission and shall not be affected by the 6-month time limit set for the re-submission of a case.