UN expresses concern over the abolition of the State Inspector Service in Georgia
Abolition of the State Inspector Service in Georgia
The UN Mission in Georgia has expressed concern over the abolition of the State Inspector Service in Georgia.
The State Inspector Service was abolished on 30 December. Parliament approved the bill to abolish the agency in the third and final reading. The bill was supported by 81 deputies, 7 deputies opposed.
The former state inspector Londa Toloraya herself hoped that the president would veto “the most non-European law”, but on January 13 it became known that Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili did not veto the abolition of the state inspector service and signed the law.
“The creation of new structures in itself does not provide a basis for any legal remarks by the president”, she said.
The statement of the UN mission says that the swift abolition of the Inspector Service, without an inclusive and transparent discussion, is of particular concern.
“The Office of the State Inspector is one of the most reliable, independent and authoritative institutions empowered to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by law enforcement agencies and oversee the protection of personal data in Georgia.
We are particularly concerned that the decision was rushed and made without inclusive and transparent discussion. The absence of proper grounds for the abolition of the State Inspector and the absence of a convincing justification for the need to deprive the State Inspector of her six-year mandate sends a chilling signal to independent human rights institutions”, the organisation said in a statement.
Organisationally, the mandate of the newly created Special Investigation Service to expand the list of crimes would seriously risk overburdening the agency and diverting staff attention from the core mandate.
The UN calls on the authorities to seek the opinion of the relevant international institutions on the compliance of these decisions with international standards.
- Elections, Covid-19, freedom of media and Mikheil Saakashvili in focus of Ombudsman’s 2021 report
- Human Rights Watch 2021 report: a setback for Georgia
The Office of the State Inspector was an independent state body whose main function was the impartial and effective investigation of crimes “committed by representatives of law enforcement agencies, officials or persons equivalent to them”.
The work of this service was regulated by the Law of Georgia on the State Inspector, which stated that the purpose of the service was “control over the legality of the processing of personal data, as well as control over covert investigative actions and manipulations with the central database of electronic communications and identifying data”.
The state inspector service was created in 2019, and in less than two years the ruling Georgian Dream party decided to abolish it.
The bill was considered by Parliament at a special hearing. Before the discussion, US Ambassador Kelly Degnan met with representatives of the ruling party and urged the deputies to postpone the discussion of the bill.
The imprisoned former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili also expressed his solidarity and support to the State Inspector. According to him, Georgian Dream fears the conclusion of the investigator on his case.
The State Inspector Service investigated possible violations against Mikhail Saakashvili, who has been in custody since October 1, 2021.