State Inspector Slams Draft Criminal Procedure Code Changes

The State Inspector’s Service, a body monitoring personal data protection and probing abuse of power, said freshly-tabled draft Criminal Procedure Code amendments fail to guarantee the agency’s independence from the Prosecutor’s Office.

The Inspector’s Service stated on December 1, that the bill, envisaging to separate investigative and prosecutorial powers fails to deliver on its aim and does not fully comply with relevant Venice Commission recommendations.

The amendments were prepared by the Interior Ministry and submitted to the Parliament on November 24. The State Inspector said that the Ministry did not take into account most of its recommendations about the reform.

Highlighting several shortcomings of the bill, the State Inspector stressed for example that the amendments still do not allow the agency to apply to the Court for launching cover investigative actions without the consent of the Prosecutor’s Office. Thus, it argued that prosecutors maintain their control in this regard.

The Inspector’s Service said a superior prosecutor would still have the power to involve an investigator from other state bodies in the State Inspector’s probes. Also, the Prosecutor General will retain the authority to transfer a case from one investigative body to another one.

The agency also voiced concern that the changes would allow prosecutors to retain their authority to terminate an investigation, or change the charges in a criminal case before initiating proceedings.

The State Inspector’s Service also objected to the proposed timeframes, according to which the law, if adopted, will only enter into force on January 1, 2023. 

Besides, according to the State Inspector’s Service, some of its provisions envisioned will not be enacted until 2024. The statement highlighted that prosecutor’s office would retain full control over conducting investigative actions restricting human rights through 2023, for example. It added that even after that, investigators would still need the prosectors’ consent to carry out such investigative actions.

The State Inspector’s Service stressed that the legislative initiative, while important for all investigative bodies, bears “more importance” to them since the agency’s level of independence and effectiveness is “essentially important” for effective investigation of the violent crimes committed by law enforcement officials and other civil servants.

It expressed hopes that the Georgian Parliament will take into consideration the challenges faced by the State Inspector’s Service.

The State Inspector’s Service, an independent authority accountable solely to the Georgian Parliament, was established in 2019, and the investigative direction became operational in the same year.

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