On 1 August 2014, American Senators James Risch, Marco Rubio, Jeanne Shaheen and John McCain addressed the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, with a letter. In the letter the Senators expressed their concern about filing charges against Mikheil Saakashvili and called upon the Government of Georgia to ensure the rule of law. On 11 August 2014, Irakli Gharibashvili sent a response letter

to the American Senators. Apart from the proceedings against the high ranking officials of the previous government, the letter also elaborates upon the reforms carried out in Georgia. Mr Gharibashvili points out:  “Many new rights have been granted to defendants.”


looked into the new rights granted to defendants after the Parliamentary Elections of 2012.

The Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia determines the rules of crime investigation, criminal prosecution and administration of justice. The recognition of a person as a defendant and taking appropriate measures against him/her is part of these procedures. Accordingly, the rights of both the prosecutor and the defendant are determined by the Criminal Procedure Code.

The Code has been amended 19 times since the Parliamentary Elections of 2012. Several amendments concerned sentencing, confinement and publicity of trials. Four amendments concerned the rights of the defendants in particular.

The first of these amendments took place on 14 June 2013. This amendment increased the rights of the defence. According to Point 7 of Article 3 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the defence consists of the accused/defendant/justified and his/her lawyer. Hence, by increasing the rights of the defence, the rights of the defendants grow as well. The 14 June 2013 amendment changed the rules of investigation. First of all, the defence was granted the right to carry out investigative actions such as search and confiscation of evidence. This amendment authorises the defence to address the court and request the search and confiscation of evidence. Another important change is that the defence can now request another investigator to take over the case. The new investigator cannot be one already investigating the given case. Thus, the 14 June 2013 amendment has granted new investigative rights to defendants.

On 24 June 2014, changes, concerning the plea agreements, were enacted in the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia. The important fact here is that one type of plea agreement – the agreement on sentencing – has been completely abolished. According to the amendment, an agreement on sentencing between the prosecutor and the defendant can only be reached after the agreement on the charges. The amendment makes it impossible to agree on a sentence unless the defendant has pleaded guilty. In terms of the defendant’s rights, the most important factor here is that a protocol, describing the agreement process is, filed. The aforementioned amendment serves the transparency of the plea agreements. Another important change for defendants’ rights is that it is now obligatory for the court to explain in detail the results of the agreement. Hence, the 24 June 2014 amendment reformed the practice of plea agreements. The most important rule changes for the defendant include the protocol of the agreement process and the mandatory notification of the defendant.

The 24 July 2013 and 26 December 2013 amendments should also be noted when discussing defendants’ rights. Both concerned the postponement of the interrogation rules of the witnesses. According to the acting rule of witness interrogation, it is obligatory for a witness to testify at the request of the prosecutor. If a witness refuses to visit the law enforcement facilities in order to testify, he/she can be forcibly brought or can be subject to legal action. According to the new rules of interrogation, a witness is to be interrogated in the court hall in the presence of both the prosecutor and defence. The aforementioned amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code was passed in 2009; however, its enactment has been postponed several times. After the 2012 elections the enactment was postponed first from 1 December 2013 to 31 December 2013 and by the latest changes it has been postponed once more to 31 December 2015. The new interrogation rules serve the interests of the defendants, ensuring equality by abolishing the advantage of the prosecution. Non-governmental organisations have called upon the Government of Georgia not to postpone the changes as it was a negative fact directly violating the essential rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia.


The Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia has been amended 19 times since the Parliamentary Elections of 2012. Only four of these amendments concerned the rights of defendants. The 14 June 2013 amendment granted the defence additional right to address the court with a request to search and confiscate evidence. The 24 June 2014 amendment reformed the plea agreement practice, making it more transparent. It also established the practice of mandatory notification of the defendant about the plea agreement.

Apart from the aforementioned positive changes, the enactment of the new interrogation rules, serving the interests of defendants, was postponed twice by the Parliament of Georgia. These delays in enactment of the new rules were negatively estimated by non-governmental organisations.

We conclude that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement:  “Many new rights have been granted to defendants,” is MOSTLY TRUE.