Practice Of Investigation Of Alleged Crimes Committed By Law Enforcement Officials, Regulations And International Standards On Effective Investigation
Deficient investigation of cases of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees has been one of the major gaps of the legal system in Georgia over the years. This issue has been constantly raised in the reports of the Public Defender of Georgia, though no significant steps have been taken to change the established practice. The intensity of the problem became especially evident following the release of video footages in September 2012 depicting prison torture. Later, new video materials on the cases of torture and ill treatment uncovered in Western Georgia, on the territory controlled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, made it evident that inhumane treatment and torture was much wider in scope and not confined solely to the penitentiary system. Impunity cultivated over the years have contributed to turning such actions of law enforcement bodies into an established practice – according to the reports of the Public Defender of Georgia, investigation on the cases of ill-treatment were either not carried out, and/or were qualified as abuse of power and authority. Proceeding from the results of the study of the appeals submitted to the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) during 2013 on the cases of alleged ill-treatment, we found expedient to prepare a special report to review the gaps existing in the current legislation and practice, content of the appeals submitted to the PDO and international standards for effective investigation.
In 2013 PDO studied up to forty appeals/complaints which referred to inhumane and degrading treatment of citizens during and/or after detention from the part of law enforcers.
The results of the study by the PDO show that the cases were/are being conducted based on the signs of an offence stipulated by the Article 333 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (abuse of power); furthermore, there has been no criminal prosecution launched against individual representatives of law enforcement bodies, nor a final decision taken; while in separate incidents criminal investigation was ceased or was not launched due to the absence of signs of crime. It should also be noted that the letters submitted to the PDO from the bodies carrying out the investigation, are identical in their content, indicating general investigative actions, without going down into specifics of the cases.
This special report provides an overview of the complaints reviewed by PDO, legislation of Georgia regarding investigation of the cases of illegal and degrading treatment from the part of the State authority representatives and the practice of their investigation; the report also gives a detailed review of the issues of investigation jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Penitentiary and Corrections of Georgia – in the context of effective investigation implementation against the gaps existing in practice and legislation, and international human rights standards with regards to effective investigation.