At the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia held on 14 June 2013, during a discussion regarding presidential remarks on the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, Giga Bukia, Member of the Parliamentary Majority, stated that February was not the only time when this draft law was initiated by the Georgian Bar Association and it was introduced to the Parliament as early as one and a half years ago, when United National Movement was still in power. However, at that point, none of the paragraphs was taken into consideration, whereas the present Parliamentary majority fully supported and upheld the draft law.FactCheck
inquired whether or not the previous Parliament had supported the amendments proposed into the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia by the Georgian Bar Association and to what degree the current Parliament had “supported and fully upheld” it.
According to the Article 67 of the Constitution of Georgia, the right of launching a legislative initiative is reserved for the President of Georgia (only in special cases), the Government, Parliamentary Faction, Member of the Parliament, Parliamentary Committee, Supreme Representative Bodies of the Autonomous Republics of Abkhazia and Ajara, 30 000 or more voters. Consequently, the Georgian Bar Association was not entitled to the right of launching a legislative initiative and therefore Parliament had no obligation of discussing it. Nevertheless, this fact does not prevent any specific organization from addressing the Parliament with an initiative.
On 9 September 2010 the Georgian Bar Association appealed to the Chairperson of the Parliament with a draft law on amendments and additions to the Criminal Procedure Code. The Code was to come into force on 1 October 2010. It is noted in the appeal of the Bar Association that “given the regulations and the direction of the code, its implementation will cause a set of difficulties. Throughout the year, since the code has come into force, many individual lawyers made public statements in regard to this issue, none of these statements and remarks, has been taken into consideration, however.” In the same letter, the Georgian Bar Association asked the members and the Chairperson of the Parliament to cooperate with the Association, considering the importance of the issue and work out a formal framework for presenting the proposed amendments and remarks at the session of the Parliament.
On 2 February 2013 the Georgian Bar Association presented the draft law on amendments and additions to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel. Ioseb Baratashvili, one of the authors of the draft law and the head of the Criminal Committee in the Association, said that they had invited to the presentation the representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the committees of Human Rights and Civil Integration and Legal Issues. However, invited individuals avoided discussion on the matter.
On 23 May 2012, Zaza Khatiashvili, head of the Georgian Bar Association, sent appeals to Davit Bakradze, the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia and Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the minority. Khatiashvili appealed to addressees to prevent the amendment from being introduced to the Criminal Procedure Code, which would postpone the enacting of Article 114 (regulations of questioning in the process of investigation) to December of 2013. The letter states that with the ratification of the new Criminal Procedure Code on 1 October 2011 “Justice has died in Georgia”.
As for the current Parliament, as we learned from the convesration with the head of the Association, it only upheld a part of amendments introduced by the Georgian Bar Association. Specifically, these amendments include: the right of video- and audio-recording and broadcasting has been restored to journalists; testimony of a witness is authorized only after the second party has received the protocol of questioning; presenting a state or a private psychiatric report is required for declaring an individual insane.
The Parliament of Georgia has partially accepted the recommendation from the Bar Association, according to which an indirect testimony was taken into consideration only in case of it being verified by a direct testimony.
Parliament dismissed some of GBA’s recommendations, among them:
- Norms were to be added to the Criminal Procedure Code guaranteeing to the defendant’s side the right of requesting a testimony and/or documentation from private individuals and institutions;
- Defendant’s side was to be granted a right of addressing the court with a request of carrying through the search and withdrawal, provided it would be carried through by state investigation services;
- Rules and condition serving as the basis for rejecting the prejudice (situation when facts do not require proofs) were to be worked out in detail;
- Court was to prepare a protocol even in case of sitting being postponed;
- Court was to be required to provide audio recordings of the court sitting to the parties.
In our inquiry about the accuracy of Giga Bukia’s statement it was established that the Georgian Bar Association had indeed addressed the previous Parliament with an initiative of introducing changes to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, which was not taken into consideration by the Parliament. Therefore, in this part, Giga Bukia’s statement is accurate.
However, as we learned from the head of the Georgian Bar Association, the recommendations of the Association have not been fully taken into consideration by the current Parliament.Accordingly, we conclude that Giga Bukia’s statement, “Not a single paragraph” of the draft law on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, initiated by the Georgian Bar Association, has been upheld by the previous Parliament; whereas it has been supported and fully upheld by the current Parliamentary Majority,” is HALF TRUE.