Public Defender Negatively Assesses the Initiation to Abolish Police Eviction Mechanism

The Public Defender of Georgia has addressed the Parliament with a proposal concerning the bill on abolition of police eviction mechanism. We believe that the regulations proposed by the bill, if adopted, will have negative impact on protection of the right to property recognized by the Constitution of Georgia.

The proposed amendments deprive the owner of the opportunity to request police eviction of a person who misappropriated real estate. For obtaining the mentioned right, the owner has to appeal to a court where dispute may last indefinitely, if for example, the illegal owner’s identity will be changed from time to time that will require the owner to file a new complaint or complaints. Similar situation will deprive the right to property of any content and will turn it into naught, which is unacceptable. The bill obliges the owner, who bought property through auction, to appeal to a court with the eviction request. This approach poses threat to public confidence in the institution of execution and impedes establishment of healthy civic processes.

In addition, abolition of police eviction mechanism may encourage regulation of legal cases under article 160 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (infringement of inviolability of ownership of an apartment or other property) and criminal prosecution, which will significantly worsen the state of people (IDPs, socially vulnerable individuals and others) who have intruded into private facilities due to being homeless or having extremely difficult social-economic conditions and continue to live there without any basis. As far as we are aware, article 160 of the Criminal Code had not been used (or had been used very seldom) in similar cases. Under circumstances when police eviction mechanism will not be available to owners, it could lead to increased filing of complaints and appeals with the Prosecutor's Office with the request to launch investigation.

It is important to note that the bill does not provide for safeguard guarantees for individuals whose real estate were sold due to unfulfilled obligations of mortgage agreements. It should also be noted that the proposed legislative package does not provide for protection measures for homelessness or any relevant obligation for local self-government bodies during evictions. The issue of forced eviction is directly related to the problem of homelessness and the challenges existing in this area.

Given the above-mentioned, the Public Defender calls on the Parliament of Georgia not to adopt the proposed bill and not to worsen the current standards of protection of the right to property. In addition, given the lack of effective social system of protection from homelessness, application of article 160 of the Criminal Code of Georgia against people intruded into private property and encouragement of active use of this article should be assessed as a regressive measure, since it clearly worsens the state of rights of people who are already in grave situation.

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