Report of Prosecutor’s Office on Implementation of Public Defender's Recommendations
On February 11, 2016, the Parliamentary Committee of Human Rights and Civil Integration started consideration of the implementation of the recommendations approved by the Parliament’s decree of 3 July concerning the Public Defender’s report on “Situation of Human Rights and Freedoms in Georgia in 2014”.
On February 15, at the session of the Parliamentary Committee of Human Rights and Civil Integration, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Giorgi Gogadze and Head of Human Rights Department Maia Kvirikashvili presented a report on the implementation of Public Defender’s recommendations.
The Deputy Chief Prosecutor discussed in detail the Public Defender's proposals concerning conduct of objective and effective investigation into the cases of ill-treatment committed by police and prison officers. The Deputy Chief Prosecutor also presented statistics on the implementation of the proposals.
With regard to the recommendation concerning the decease of prisoners in the penitentiary facilities, it should be positively evaluated that, in compliance with the Public Defender's appeal, investigation into all similar cases were launched by the Prosecutor’s Office. However, categorization of crimes committed by law enforcers still remains to be a problem. In particular, none of the cases was categorized as ill-treatment and investigation into the cases was launched under the article pertaining to abuse of power, something described as a problem by the Public Defender.
The Public Defender’s recommendation on setting up an independent investigatory mechanism for investigation of similar crimes is still in force, as there remain questions concerning the effectiveness of the investigation carried out by the Prosecutor's Office into similar cases.
With regard to the investigation of the crimes committed during the armed conflict of 2008, Maia Kvirikashvili said that the Prosecutor's Office conducted large-scale and complex investigative actions. It was also noted that the cases are now being investigated by the International Criminal Court. However, the Public Defender focused on effective conduct of the investigation and timely delivery of a judgment in the case of the disappearance of three Ossetian individuals on 12-13 October 2008, which became a subject of Thomas Hammarberg’s special report and the investigation of which still remains within the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor's Office.
As for the investigation of the killing of persons during the special operation of the Lopota Gorge, representatives ofthe Prosecutor's Office said that all necessary investigative and operational-search actions were carried out and intense investigation is still in progress. The Public Defender noted that his recommendation was not only to ensure timely and efficient investigation, which represents high interest of the society, but also to launch procedures for granting relevant status to victims and to transfer the investigation of the case to the Prosecutor's Office, which has not been implemented.
In connection with the right to assembly and manifestation, the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office talked about the details of the conducted and ongoing investigations into the crackdown of rallies and manifestations of 2009-2012 and the results of forensic examinations. It was noted that the majority of the cases indicated by the Public Defender are still under investigation.
The Public Defender considers that investigation is also delayed in the case of the restricted right of media representatives to assembly and manifestation; at the same time, with regard to a number of cases, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that in addition to giving compensation to the victims, which has already been fulfilled by the Government, an effective investigation shall be conducted. Accordingly, effective and timely completion of the investigation into these cases is necessary for the execution of the European court decision.
A specialized department of the Chief Prosecutor's Office has been working on the investigation of crimes committed during legal proceedings for two years. 4445 applications/complaints have been submitted concerning the cases of beating-torture, degrading and inhuman treatment, forced concession or seizure of property.
According to the Prosecutor's Office, investigation has been completed into 27 criminal cases; 34 persons were recognized as victims and they reclaimed their property.
The Public Defender cannot describe the efforts of this department as effective, which is proved by the statistics too.
For the purpose of fighting against crimes committed on grounds of religious intolerance, the Prosecutor's Office and its territorial divisions actively supervise the ongoing investigations. In 2014, investigation was launched into 19 crimes committed against Jehovah's Witnesses on grounds of religious intolerance. Criminal prosecution was launched against 7 persons. Court delivered guilty verdicts against all defendants. However, the Public Defender noted that the Prosecutor's Office had not presented detailed information about the categorization of the cases and no relevant focus was put on the grounds of hate. It is also necessary that the guiding document of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office concerning the investigation of the hate crimes be available to the Public Defender and other stakeholders so that the interests of the investigation are not damaged.
In response to the Public Defender’s recommendation on ensuring detailed statistics on violence against women and periodic publication of the relevant data, representatives of the Prosecutor's Office said that a recommendation was developed for prosecutors, while since 2015 the Prosecutor's Office has been sending statistical data to the National Statistics Office for further publication.
According to the Public Defender, despite the taken steps, it is important to improve the current methodology of collecting statistical data and to ensure their periodic publication.