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27 Jun 2023

The Conference on the Protection of Victims' Rights and the effective investigation of Facts of Ill-treatment was organized by the Special Investigation Service with the support of the Council of Europe

The Conference on the Protection of Victims' Rights and the effective investigation of Facts of Ill-treatment was organized by the Special Investigation Service with the support of the Council of Europe

 

The purpose of the conference was to evaluate the initiatives developed by the Special Investigation Service to improve the legal status of victims, to assess the implemented reforms and to discuss the standards for effective investigations.

 

The participants of the conference summarized the activities carried out for the protection of victims' rights and the effective investigation of ill-treatment cases. They also discussed the standards for investigating crimes related to violations established by the European Court of Human Rights. The discussions also focused on the existing challenges and the planned measures.

 

Natalia Voutova, the Head of the Council of Europe office in Georgia, Christophe Poirel, the Head of the Human Rights Directorate of Human Rights and the Rule of Law Directorate of the Council of Europe, Shalva Papuashvili, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia and Koka Katsitadze, the Head of the Special Investigation Service gave welcoming speeches to open the event.  

 

Three-panel discussions were delivered during the conference.

 

The first panel focused on the institutional development and strengthening of the functional independence of the Special Investigation Service.

 

During the first session, the Head of the Special Investigation Service, Koka Katsitadze, presented the key achievements, challenges and results of the Investigation Service's activities to members of the higher legislative body, representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations, the Public Defender's Office and the non-governmental sector.

 

During the presentation, he emphasized the specific measures implemented by the Service to provide additional guarantees for the protection of victims' rights. This includes granting citizens the right to access and familiarizewith the case materials. Additionally, he mentioned the special protection program aimed at creating additional guarantees and safeguards for the rights of potential witnesses and victims and their involvement in the investigation process.

 

In his speech, Koka Katsitadze focused on the statistics on the investigation of ill-treatment cases committed by law enforcement officers and crimes against human rights and freedom and highlighted the number of opened cases in that particular direction.

 

He also reiterated the importance of fulfilling the obligations outlined in the 12-point plan of the European Commission. Specifically, he discussed the legislative amendments that have been implemented to strengthen the Service and ensure its independence.

 

According to him, despite facing a significantly increased workload and limited human resources, the Service within a year managed to respond to 2,462 reports, initiated investigations into 495 cases and launched the criminal prosecution against 74 persons, 31 public servants and 43citizens among them.

 

During the speech, special attention was given to the prompt response of the Service in investigating crimes related to journalistic activity. Within one year, investigations were initiated on 12 criminal cases, criminal prosecution was launched against 8 individuals for unlawful interference with journalist’s professional activities or crimes directly related to their professional work. In each of these cases, the Service ensured timely and comprehensive communication with the media and the public and the suffered journalists were fully engaged in the investigation process.

 

At the conference, Besarion Bokhashvili, a consultant of the Council of Europe, delivered a presentation of the strategy document of the Special Investigation Service. The presentation included the feedback received from the Council of Europe and outlined the action plan of the Service for the period of 2023-2028.

 

The second panel of the conference focused on strengthening the victim-oriented approach and addressing the issue of witness protection in investigations conducted by the Special Investigation Service. During this session, Levan Kutateladze, the Head of the Investigation Quality Monitoring and Analytical Department of the Special Investigation Service, delivered a presentation on the measures taken to enhance the legal status of victims. Additionally, Tatiana Cojocaru, Head of the Department of Enforcement of Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, delivered a presentation on the effective participation of victims in the investigation of serious human rights violations.

 

The third-panel session focused on the new function of the Special Investigation Service, which involves investigating crimes related to violations established by the European Court of Human Rights. Ketevan Tskhomelidze, the representative of the Department of Enforcement of Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, delivered a presentation on the standards for these new investigations, taking into account the practices of the Committee of Ministers following the decisions of the European Court.

 

The following panelists also participated inpanel discussions:

                                                                                                                                

Natia Songhulashvili - Deputy Head of the Special Investigation Service;                Mikheil Sarjveladze - Chairman of the Human Rights Protection and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia;

                                                                                                                                 Tamar Gvaramadze - First Deputy Public Defender of Georgia;

                                                                                                                                 Aleksandre Darakhvelidze - Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia;

                                                                                                                                 Amiran Guluashvili - Head of the Procedural Management Department of the Special Investigation Service of the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia;

                                                                                                                                 Nino Nikolaishvili - Head of the Department of State Representation in International Courts of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia;

                                                                                                                                 Tamar Oniani - Director of the Human Rights Protection Program of the "Young Lawyers Association of Georgia"(GYLA).

 

The event was held within the framework of the Council of Europe project  "Human Rights Complaints Policing in Georgia” (HRCPG).