Effective fight against crime is the state’s most important authority, but this must always be done with maximum respect to human rights. The state must use those measures for ensuring public safety that require minimum interference in fundamental rights.
Multiple allegations regarding violation of human rights were made in relation to the December 22-24, 2017 police control operation. In several instances criminal acts or disciplinary violations by law enforcement representatives look probable.
Importantly, during such police control measures the state sets different balance between the citizens and the policemen, to the benefit of the latter, and any citizen may be subjected to a police check (frisk). The state should only be able to use such intensive and expansive mechanisms in extraordinary circumstances, however in this case the “operation” was conducted over the entire territory of the country, for general preventive purposes only.
The violations during the operation clearly show the need for the law enforcement system reform, which would change the nature of the police force, making them oriented to protection of human rights and earning trust of the public. This further demonstrates the urgency for creating the independent investigative mechanism for investigating crimes of law enforcement officers.
Georgian civil society representatives and the Public Defender have been calling for creation of such a mechanism for years now. Draft legislation is already prepared and has received expert evaluations. Creating such a mechanism is crucial since Georgian Prosecution and the law enforcement are not able to effectively investigate the crimes committed by law enforcement officers.
Public trust in police cannot be created until there is an independent agency that could investigate the possible crimes committed by the police. Currently the public feeling is that the police crimes do not get adequately punished.
The Coalition calls on the Parliament of Georgia to start hearing the independent investigative mechanism related legislation without delay. This will be an effective means for punishing the policemen who have committed crimes and will simultaneously help raise trust towards all the law enforcement officers, who duly fulfill their obligations.
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