OSCE/ODIHR Prepares Legal Opinion on Legislative Changes relating to State Inspector's Service at Public Defender’s Request
On February 2, 2022, the Public Defender of Georgia applied to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) with a request to evaluate the law abolishing the State Inspector’s Service. Since we had appealed against the relevant decision to the Constitutional Court, we requested the submission of a legal opinion under expedited procedure. On 18 February 2022, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights issued a legal opinion that critically assesses the changes made and recommends the suspension and repeal of the law.
On February 19, 2022, we sent the legal opinion to the Constitutional Court to attach it to the case under consideration. We hope that the Constitutional Court will take into account all aspects of the OSCE/ODIHR opinion, suspend the disputed norm in the first stage and then declare it unconstitutional.
According to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, contrary to international standards, the abolition of the State Inspector's Service by the Parliament was hasty and was not preceded by prior consultations. According to the organization, this decision is a dangerous precedent as it poses a threat to the rule of law and effective functioning of independent institutions.
The legal opinion reads that the legislative change and its outcome may affect the quality of human rights protection in the country, as well as investigation of cases of ill-treatment and death of prisoners, as the effectiveness of an independent institution is at stake, while the mandate of an investigative body is extended to crimes that had not been covered by the jurisdiction of an independent body so far (without increasing the relevant financial resources).
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has made a number of recommendations regarding the law adopted by the Parliament, including:
- It is necessary to suspend the law and eliminate shortcomings in the legislative process;
- If the law is not suspended, the mandate of the Inspector and Deputies of the Inspector should be extended and they should be allowed to complete their term of office;
- The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights agrees with the Public Defender’s multi-year recommendation that an independent investigative mechanism should have the power to investigate acts allegedly committed by high officials (Prosecutor General, Minister of Internal Affairs, Head of the Security Service) and prosecutors.
The OSCE/ODIHR assessments, findings and recommendations are based on international human rights law and the documents adopted by the OSCE and other international organizations.
The Public Defender of Georgia uses all the legal levers and mechanisms at her disposal to promote the protection of human rights in the country and the effective functioning of independent bodies responsible for the protection of human rights. The Public Defender applied to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights for this very aim.
The OSCE/ODIHR legal assessment will be available in Georgian in the near future.