Public Defender’s Statement on Attempt to Abolish State Inspector's Office
The Public Defender of Georgia is extremely concerned about the draft law initiated by the Members of Parliament of Georgia, which abolishes the State Inspector’s Office in an expedited manner. The bill was prepared in a non-transparent manner and without prior consultation with stakeholders. We believe that this decision contradicts the Constitution of Georgia and human rights and aims to interfere with the activities of an independent institution.
The main shortcoming of the draft law is the dismissal of the State Inspector, Deputies of the State Inspector and employees of the State Inspector’s Office.
This type of regulation contradicts Article 25 of the Constitution of Georgia and violates the positive obligations of prohibition of ill-treatment and protection of the right to privacy based on the Constitution of Georgia and the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the case law of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, early termination of the term of office of an independent body is possible only in exceptional cases, when this action is a necessary and only effective means of achieving the relevant legitimate aim. The element defining the essence of the position of the State Inspector is the degree of independence from the executive and/or legislative branch of government, which can be limited only in exceptional cases for the legitimate aim of improving the management of the service. According to the Constitutional Court of Georgia, such a special case can occur only when the relevant norms are so flawed that they contradict the purpose of a specific state position and their change is an urgent need. The absence of such circumstances is proved by the fact that the draft law does not change the legislation regulating the State Inspector's Office.
The proposed procedure for the dismissal of the professional staff of the State Inspector's Office is of particular note, which provides for a different regulation from the currently applied one and puts the staff in a clearly unequal position compared with other public officials, and is discriminatory in its content. The job guarantees for professional public servants are important for the effective functioning of the State.
We would like to especially note that the State Inspector’s Office has been established as an independent state body that effectively and transparently exercises its powers. Since November 1, 2019, the Public Defender’s Office has been actively monitoring the activities of the State Inspector's Office, requesting information and studying criminal cases. We have always indicated in our reports that the investigations conducted by the State Inspector's Office met the requirements of timeliness, thoroughness and accuracy.
We, as a parliamentary oversight body, are ready to provide more information to the Parliament of Georgia regarding the activities of the State Inspector of Georgia. The results of our observations show that the State Inspector's Office needs to be strengthened and not divided, both in the legislative and budgetary directions.
The draft law initiated in the Parliament of Georgia does not offer any novelty in the content, just indicating that two new bodies will be created instead of the State Inspector's Office and the investigative jurisdiction will only slightly be increased. At the same time, there is nothing new in terms of dependence on the Prosecutor's Office (which is one of the big challenges today). On the contrary, according to the bill, the employees of the Prosecutor's Office will no longer be covered by the investigative mandate of the State Inspector's Office.
It is especially alarming to see the hastened discussion of the bill. According to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, this type of procedure makes it possible to adopt the bill in all three readings in just a week. When it comes to the abolition of an independent institution that operates properly and effectively, and in the absence of prior consultation with stakeholders or a body accountable to the Parliament (including the Public Defender), it is clear that the purpose of the legislative change is to influence the functioning of an independent body.
The Public Defender of Georgia calls on Members of Parliament of Georgia to refrain from adopting the draft law. At the same time, we call on the diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited in Georgia to be fully involved in this process as much as possible in order to avoid the adoption of the draft law that would worsen the protection of human rights in Georgia.
Given that we are dealing with a completely unprecedented case of abolition of an independent state body, we call on the President of Georgia, in case the bill is adopted, to use the opportunity to apply to the Parliament with motivated remarks and/or to the Constitutional Court of Georgia.