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Irakli Shotadze: “The number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes has increased and in fact doubled as compared to the previous years.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Irakli Shotadze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

Resume: According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes increased by 99% in 2018 as compared 2017, nearly doubling the figure. This figure increased by 15.8% in 2019 as compared to 2018. In regard to 2020, the number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes only registered a marginal increase.

Of note is that the total number of registered crimes also increased sharply in 2018 and naturally this might have stipulated an increase in criminal cases launched for domestic crimes. Nevertheless, a number of changes/measures taken in the last years attest to the fact that fighting against domestic crimes remains one of the priorities for both the authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office.

Analysis

The Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, presented the 2020 performance report to the Prosecutorial Council. At the presentation, Mr Shotadze spoke about domestic crime and stated that the Prosecutor’s Office pursued a tough criminal policy vis-à-vis persons charged with domestic crimes.

Irakli Shotadze added that the number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes had increased and in fact doubled as compared to the previous years. In addition, he also stated that prosecutors have also increasingly started to request detention as a preventive measure for those committing domestic crimes.

There are several articles in the Criminal Code of Georgia[1] on domestic crime. It is defined as a crime committed by one family member against another family member. Women constitute a large segment of the victims of such crimes and, therefore, carrying out gender-sensitive justice vis-à-vis women and cases of domestic violence remains an important priority.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, criminal cases were launched against 4,633 individuals for domestic crimes in 2020. If we take a look at the statistics for the previous years, we will see that the number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes has been gradually rising since 2014 with the sharpest growth being registered in 2018.

The number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes increased by 99% in 2018 as compared 2017, nearly doubling the figure. This figure increased by 15.8% in 2019 as compared to 2018. In regard to 2020, the number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes only registered a marginal increase.

Graph 1: Number of Criminal Cases Launched by the Prosecutor’s Office for Domestic Crimes in 2014-2020

Source: Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia

Of important note is that the total number of registered crimes has sharply increased since 2018 (see FactCheck’s article). It is still uncertain why this change occurred. If we assume that the statistical data do provide an actual picture, then the increased number of criminal cases launched for family crimes is logical. However, since we do not know whether or not crime – including domestic crime – did in fact increase, we cannot make any conclusions based on the number of criminal cases for domestic crimes launched by the Prosecutor’s Office.

Apart from the number of criminal cases launched, there has also been an increase in the motions on the part of prosecutors for detention for those charged with domestic crimes as a preventive measure. The growth in domestic crimes has been most evident in the last four years. After adopting a harsher approach, plea bargains with the accused are nearly a thing of the past. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, 94% of all motions for preventive measures submitted to the courts in 2020 were requests for detention.

Graph 2: Percentage Figure of Detention Requests for Domestic Crimes in 2014-2020

Source: Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia

As compared to 2016, requests for detention for those accused of domestic crimes almost doubled in 2020 whilst such requests increased by a factor of 6.7 as compared to 2014. This means that there has been important progress from the Prosecutor’s Office in responding to registered domestic crimes along with a sophistication of the crime registration methodology.

Selecting a preventive measure is of paramount importance given the specific character of family violence and violence against women as well as the crime’s repetitive nature. The issue of detention, which may be critical for the victim, is especially significant.

Although the number of detention requests intended as a preventive measure for the perpetrators of domestic crimes has increased substantially, the number of court approvals for such motions has been dropping to a certain extent over the last years.

Graph 3: Court Approval Figures on Detention Requests for Domestic Crimes in 2014-2020

Source: Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia

Combating domestic crime and violence against women is one of the priorities of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. Therefore, many important steps have been made in this regard. However, fighting against domestic violence and violence against women as well as carrying out an effective criminal investigation on such crimes remains an important challenge for the Prosecutor’s Office.

The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) drafted a policy paper[2] on the challenges facing the Prosecutor’s Office in the criminal proceedings of crimes committed with a discriminatory motive.

The IDFI’s 2020 policy paper reads that the work overload of prosecutors who specialise in domestic offence, violence against women and domestic violence is an important problem.

The document also highlights that a comprehensive objective substantiation of the objective part of the criminal act committed under a respective article and its corroboration with in-depth and evidence-based arguments still remain a challenge for the prosecution in the case of domestic crime.

The IDFI’s policy paper additionally draws attention to the problem of substantiation by the prosecution when requiring detention/leaving detention in force as a measure of prevention. Perhaps, this is why the court approval figures on motions for detention as a preventive measure is not that high (as mentioned earlier, see Graph 3).

The passive role of prosecutors during the interrogation of witnesses and the poor communication of the prosecution with the victim was named as another important problem in the IDFI’s document.

Given the analysis, we may conclude that notwithstanding the aforementioned challenges, the approach of the Prosecutor’s Office vis-à-vis domestic crimes is getting better. The number of criminal cases launched for domestic crimes has in fact increased. The sharply increased motions for detention from the Prosecutor’s Office against perpetrators of domestic crimes – although the courts are less inclined to approve such motions - warrant positive acclaim. Therefore, Irakli Shotadze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

[1]Crimes envisioned by Articles 109, 115, 118, 120, 126, 1331, 1332, 137-141, 143, 144-1443, 149-1511, 160, 171, 187, 253-2551, 3811 and 3812 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.

[2]Policy Paper on Challenges Facing the Prosecution Service in Criminal Proceedings of Crimes Committed with Discriminatory Motive

Photo Credits: netgazeti.ge


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