Response to Facts of Ill-treatment in Police: Visions of the State and Society
On December 4, 2015, the Public Defender held another public debate on "Response to Facts of Ill-treatment in Police: Visions of the State and Society". Reports were presented by Ekaterine Khutsishvili, Head of the Public Defender's Department of Criminal Justice, Nika Kvaratskhelia, Head of the Public Defender's Department of Prevention and Monitoring, Varlam Khatridze, Deputy Head of the General Inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Zviad Koridze, Head of the Pardon Commission.
The main topics of the debate were the facts of ill-treatment committed by police officers and inefficient investigation of offences committed by law enforcers. Rules of interrogation of detainees, shortcomings in documentation of bodily injuries and proper processing of other important documents were also discussed.
Ekaterine Khutsishvili, Head of the Department of Criminal Justice, stressed the ineffectiveness of investigation. According to her, this year the Public Defender's Office has sent 9 proposals to the Prosecutor’s Office with regard to initiation of investigation into alleged offences committed by law enforcers, however, none of the cases have been solved yet. She also termed conduction of investigation into alleged offenses involving police officers by the General Inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as conflict of interest. According to her, the abovementioned casts doubt on the objectivity of investigation.
Varlam Khatridze, Deputy Head of the General Inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, denied existence of conflict of interest. According to him, in 2015 alone the General Inspection has reviewed more than 2000 disciplinary cases involving police officers and punished a number of them.
The debate also focused on safeguards to protect detainees from torture and other ill-treatment during and after detention. Nika Kvaratskhelia, Head of the Department of Prevention and Monitoring, based on the monitoring results, stated that reasonable suspicion existed with regard to a number of cases that detainees were subjected to physical violence during or after detention. He added that there was a particularly high risk of violence prior to placing detainees in a temporary detention center. In addition, there are no surveillance cameras in police stations and therefore, it is impossible to obtain videos showing treatment of detainees, which could serve as decisive evidence for the investigation. The discussion also focused on reasonability of equipping police officers with body cameras in order to prevent excessive use of force.
The debate lasted in a Q&A format more than two hours. The event was moderated by Nino Gobronidze, representative of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia.
The public debates are supported by the EU project “Strengthening the Public Defender’s Office”.