UN: Disbanding Inspector’s Service ‘Chilling Message’ to Other Bodies

The United Nations Country Team in Georgia stated today that “lack of convincing justification for abolishing the State Inspector’s Service and the absence of compelling rationale for stripping the State Inspector of her six-year mandate sends a chilling message to independent institutions of human rights protection.”

The UN mission particularly emphasized President Salome Zurabishvili’s decision on January 13 to sign the controversial law to dissolve the agency and establish two new bodies instead – Special Investigation Service and Personal Data Protection Service. The President had faced civil society calls to veto the legislation instead.

“We are particularly concerned about the expedited manner and lack of inclusive and transparent discussions about the abolition of one of the most credible, independent and authoritative institutions in Georgia,” the UN Country Team highlighted.

Besides, the UN Country team voiced concern that as the law envisages “substantial broadening” of the list of crimes falling under the Investigation Service’s mandate, “it entails a serious risk of overburdening the agency and distracting its team from fulfilling its primary mandate to combat impunity.”

The statement also recalled 2015 recommendations by then-UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, that an “unduly broad jurisdiction” could make the tasks of the State Inspector overly burdensome if offenses not pertaining to torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment fall within its mandate.

The UN Country Team also called on the authorities to request the opinion of relevant international institutions on the compliance of its decisions on dissolving the State Inspector with international standards.

The Georgian Dream lawmakers fast-tracked the proposal to dissolve the State Inspector, pushing the law through three hearings in only two days on December 29-30.

The controversial legislation faced civil society, opposition and international criticism. The President eventually refrained from issuing a veto despite having criticized the law and its rushed adoption.

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