“Reform of the country’s criminal justice system, including the creation of an independent mechanism to investigate alleged human rights violations by police, should be the top priority of Georgia’s new government,” according to the Amnesty International, London-based international human rights organization.
The three-page public statement, released on June 18, draws on the controversial court ruling that prompted recent protests in Tbilisi, as well as on other high-profile criminal investigations that have raised “widespread concerns” about criminal justice in Georgia.
According to the Amnesty International, the teen murder case protests “reflect a widespread view that the criminal justice system is ineffective,” and expose “ lack of trust in criminal justice system.”
The watchdog touched upon the case of Temirlan Machalikashvili, a suspect in terror-related case, who was shot dead during the Security Service operation on December 26 last year, saying the “Georgian authorities were slow and reluctant to launch an investigation into his killing, but did so eventually.”
“The new government should ensure that an impartial, independent and prompt investigation into the killings of Davit Saralidze and Temirlan Machalikashvili is conducted,” the statement reads, adding that “timely and substantive” updates on the investigation should be provided to the victims’ families and their lawyers.
The watchdog spoke on other high-profile cases as well, saying “ineffective criminal investigations, including impunity for human rights abuses committed by law enforcement officials, have been long-standing problems in Georgia.”
To address these concerns, the Amnesty International believes, the Georgian authorities need to “ensure that a truly independent mechanism for the investigation of abuses by police and other state officials is created without delay.”
“New legislation to underpin the creation of such an agency should enact all necessary provisions, including institutional independence (amongst others, from the Prosecutor’s Office), public accountability, and sufficient resources, so that it is able to deliver effective, prompt, independent and impartial investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement officials,” the statement reads.