The third chapter of the Human Rights Action Plan (HRAP) consists of one goal, 5 objectives and 19 separate activities and covers the issues such as independent, impartial and effective investigation and criminal justice policy, transparency of the Prosecutor’s Office, capacity building of the Prosecutor’s Office and prosecutors, etc.
Active cooperation of the Prosecutor’s Office with the project team on providing relevant information and clarifying the Action Plan’s indicators deserves positive assessment. It facilitated the effective monitoring of the implementation of the Action Plan and helped in drafting the present report.
First, it should be noted that the Governmental Human Rights Action Plan failed to include the following important issues: enhancing independence of the Prosecutor’s Office, establishment of a prosecutorial system that would be open, transparent and accountable to public, etc. These issues shall be a priority for the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia and their importance have been stressed in numerous international or national reports.
One should underline the irrelevance of some of the objectives and activities to the aim of the Action Plan as well as vague, formalistic and, in certain cases, irrelevant indicators. Therefore, the indicators were revised in co-operation with the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office and some changes were made to them.
The Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office for 2016-2017 was also studied within the framework of the report in relevance to the third chapter of the HRAP. It turned out that the strategy contains some parts of the HRAP without any modifications, including the activities planned to be implemented in 2016; some of them have some modifications; the strategy does not mention at all the obligation undertaken by the Government in the HRAP concerning carrying out quantitative and qualitative analysis of crimes entailing human rights breaches to be published in a quarterly report. Unfortunately, it was impossible to assess the action plan of the given strategy as it was not a public document.
To assess the implementation of the activities of the HRAP, we officially requested the information from the Prosecutor’s Office and received the answers in writing on 4 September and 27 December. Besides, in the assessment process, we used the interim reports on the implementation of the Action Plan approved by the Government of Georgia and the report presented by the Chief Prosecutor to the Prosecutor’s Council on 19 July 2017.
The assessment shows that, at the moment of drafting the report, out of the 19 activities, 9 activities have been fully implemented; in 3 activities more than half of the issues have been covered; in 3 activities less than half of the issues have been covered; and 4 activities have not been implemented. The total progress of the implementation of the third chapter is 64 %. In conclusion, it should be mentioned that some of the objectives of the Action Plan are not relevant to its aim in terms of establishment of a human rights-oriented, independent, fair, effective and transparent prosecution system. At the same time, certain activities planned for the implementation of some of the objectives do not contribute either to their implementation or to the fulfilment of the general aim of the Action Plan. Not to mention the failure in the implementation or partial implementation of such important activities as publishing a report on human rights breaches, introduction of prosecutors’ performance evaluation system, analysis of widespread crimes for the establishment of effective criminal justice policy, etc.
It should be assessed positively that more than half of the activities envisaged by the Action Plan (out of 19 activities) have been completed fully or mostly (12 activities in total) (Such as developing public-oriented prosecutors’ offices, developing a strategy and an action plan of prosecutors’ training centre, adopting a new code of ethics for staff at prosecutors’ offices, training sessions on various topics for prosecutors, etc.)
- Overall Assessment of Chapter III of the Human Rights Action Plan
- Content-Related Comments on Chapter III – Relevance to the Challenges and Recommendations
The reform of the Prosecutor’s Office is one of the most important goals of the HRAP, aimed at establishing a prosecutorial system, which will carry out fair, effective and transparent prosecution and will be oriented towards human rights protection.
The HRAP of the Government of Georgia shares the importance of this aim and devotes Chapter III with 5 separate objectives to its implementation.
Objectives envisaged by the HRAP should be derived from the Human Rights Strategy and the obligations undertaken by the Georgian Government, whereas the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office adopted on 2017 and covering 2017-2021 should be one of the means of their implementation. However, the report shows that Chapter III does not fully reflect the reality and some of its activities are irrelevant to the goals and objectives of the HRAP. Moreover, this chapter does not include the recommendations of some international experts and those of the Public Defender of Georgia; some of the objectives on strengthening the institutional capacity of the Prosecutor’s Office envisaged by the national strategy are omitted in Chapter III as well.
For the reform process of the Prosecutor’s Office, the HRAP considers it important to improve the control mechanism on the prosecutor’s work, to carry out criminal prosecution and to use preventive measures in line with international standards. The importance of the above-mentioned as well as other issues, such as the establishment of the mechanism of effective response to the incidents of ill-treatment by law-enforcement agencies, independence of the work of the Prosecutor’s Office to avert any unlawful pressure and to ensure better transparency and accountability, have been stressed by the reports of the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture and the Public Defender of Georgia. These issues have also been mentioned in the report on Progress in the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Protection of Human Rights in Georgia for 2014-2020 and Recommendations as to Future Approaches, prepared by an independent consultant and human rights international expert Maggie Nicholson. Maintaining the reform of the Prosecutor’s Office to ensure its independence, protection from any unlawful pressure, its transparency and accountability is also one of the short-term priorities under the justice chapter of the agenda of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the EU.
Therefore, the following list contains the issues which due to their importance should have been included in the HRAP for 2016-2017:
- Increasing independence and political neutrality of the Prosecutor’s Office;
- Establishment of an open and transparent prosecution system accountable to public;
- Increasing independence of prosecutors’ individual work; and
- Creation of an effective criminal prosecution mechanism on allegations of ill-treatment by law-enforcement officials.
Besides, in spite of the fact that the development of the training centre and its provision with a library and other special programs is one of the important working directions of the Prosecutor’s Office, we conclude that the human rights situation and the goal of the HRAP related to the establishment of an independent, effective and human rights-oriented criminal prosecution system could not be achieved solely by strengthening the training centre and improving prosecutors’ qualifications or/and by establishing the performance evaluation system for prosecutors.
- Assessment of the Relevance, Effectiveness and Priority of the Activities Envisaged Under Chapter III
Chapter III of the HRAP, as it has already been mentioned repeatedly, aims at establishing a prosecution system that would be able to independently perform fair, effective, transparent and human rights-oriented criminal prosecution.
The present chapter will assess the relevance, effectiveness and the priorities of the HRAP objectives with respect to the HRAP’s goal and whether it is possible to achieve it by the thorough implementation of these objectives by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Independence of the Prosecutor’s Office from the external pressure and the need of transparent criminal prosecution are underlined in numerous reports by non-governmental organisations and the Public Defender of Georgia. These issues became especially relevant since the changes made to the Law of Georgia on Prosecutor’s Office led to the introduction of the selection mechanism of the Chief Prosecutor and his/her accountability to the Council of Prosecutors. Coalition for the Independent and Transparent Justice responded to these legislative changes on 25 September 2015 with the following statement: “In spite of some positive changes to the law, the objective of the draft law envisaging de-politicisation is unattainable since these amendments are of fragmented nature and do not cover those fundamental principles which should ensure real independence of the prosecutorial system, irrespective the conclusions of the Venice Commission.” Unfortunately, none of the objectives and the relevant activities envisaged under the HRAP meet this challenge to ensure the independence of the prosecutors’ work from external pressure.
The goal of the HRAP is to achieve transparency and effectiveness of criminal prosecution, which is also a part of the Human Rights chapter of the AP. For its achievement, the objective of enhancing transparency and accountability of the Prosecutor’s Office is planned. Although, out of the activities planned for the achievement of this objective, only one (carrying out qualitative and quantitative analysis of crimes entailing human rights breaches and publishing quarterly reports) envisages proactive publishing of certain information. Other activities are either too general (e.g. developing public-oriented prosecutors’ offices) or irrelevant to the respective objectives (e.g. improving the rule for appointment and promotion of prosecutors).
The objective of paragraph 3.1.1 of the HRAP is ensuring “independent, impartial, effective investigation and a crime combating policy that conforms to the existing crime patterns” whereas the action plan itself refers to an independent, fair and effective criminal prosecution, not investigation. Moreover, none of the activities planned for the implementation of this objective ensure independence and impartial investigation. At the same time, nothing is said in the HRAP about the means of achieving crime combating policy relevant to the situation of crime.
It is worth mentioning that some of the activities of the HRAP are too general (e.g. capacity building of prosecutors; conducting training sessions on various topics for prosecutors). The indicators designed for the assessment of the performance of these activities are also vague and formalistic; the quantitative and qualitative indicators used are very few. Therefore, the working group in co-operation with the Prosecutor’s Office’s representatives reviewed the indicators and made some changes to them.
1.3 Assessment of Other Relevant Action Plans with Reference to Chapter III of the HRAP
In parallel to the HRAP, on 31 January 2017, the Chief Prosecutor approved the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office for 2017-2021. Later, the relevant action plan has been designed. The strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office is public and is placed on the website of the Prosecutor’s Office, although according to the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office, the relevant action plan was not public and thus was not available for the working group. Therefore, the comparison between the timeframes of the activities of the HRAP and the action Plan of the Prosecutor’s Office turned out to be impossible.
According to the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office, during 2017-2021 the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia plans to implement the activities to strengthen the independence of the prosecutor’s office and prosecutors, increasing the efficiency of fight against certain crimes (including human trafficking, corruption, terrorism, drug-related crimes and cybercrime), protection of human rights, enhancing the quality of prosecutorial work and establishing a homogeneous criminal policy, increasing public trust, prevention of crime and improving the professionalism and qualifications of staff members.
Some of the HRAP activities have been expected to be implemented in 2016, whereas they are still included in the 2017-2021 Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office. Therefore, it was possible to compare only the activities planned for 2017. Out of the activities planned for 2017, the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office contains elaboration of the guidelines on the investigation of corruption committed by legal entities, introduction of the prosecutor’s performance evaluation system, introduction of a transparent system for prosecutors’ disciplinary responsibilities, conducting various training sessions for prosecutors as well as strengthening the capacity of the prosecutors’ training centre and elaboration of relevant training programs. The activity of the HRAP on increasing the intensity of and improving the efficiency of local crime prevention councils’ meetings has been differently interpreted in the strategy. The Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office envisages not improving the efficiency of the acting local councils but the establishment of new ones.
One should also take into consideration that the activities planned for 2016 under the HRAP, such as the introduction of the performance evaluation system, elaboration of a handbook on legal writing and the investigation methodology, are included in the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office for 2017-2021 designed in 2017.
The most important is the fact that the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office does not contain the obligation on carrying out qualitative and quantitative analysis of crimes violating human rights and publishing quarterly reports envisaged under the HRAP although the strategy devotes the whole chapter to the protection of human rights.
Therefore, one could conclude that the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office and the HRAP are not in compliance with each other either by content or with regard to the timeframes given for the implementation for certain activities. Though it should be noted that the Strategy of the Prosecutor’s Office reflects the current situation in the field much better in terms of human rights protection, increasing the quality of the prosecution and investigation, standard of professional ethics, improving the prosecutors’ qualifications, increasing the independence of the prosecutors and the Prosecutor’s Office as well as its institutional development that the HRAP does with its objectives and relevant activities.
Recommendations and Suggestions
To the Prosecutor’s Office:
- Conduct an analysis of prevalent crimes and elaborate relevant recommendations for an effective criminal policy;
- Ensure timely introduction of the handbook on holistic methodology of investigation and evaluation;
- Prepare the analysis of alternative mechanism of prosecution – diversion of adults and introduce it to the prosecutors;
- Prepare and publish quantitative and content-based quarterly report on criminal cases on human rights violations;
- Study the rules of appointment and promotion of ordinary prosecutors and elaborate the changes for their improvement;
- Continue intensive work for the establishment of the system of disciplinary responsibility of the prosecutors, which would be transparent for public, in line with the Public Defender’s recommendations;
- Elaborate the monitoring mechanism of the implementation of some of the activities envisaged under the action plan (methodology of investigation, Code of Ethics, performance evaluation system) and introduce it into practice; and
 Report to the Georgian Government on the visit to Georgia carried out by the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Available at: https://rm.coe.int/16806961f8, (accessed 13.01.2018).
 Reports of the Public Defender of Georgia on the situation of Human Rights and Freedoms in Georgia for the years of 2014 and 2015; available at: http://www.ombudsman.ge/en/reports/saparlamento-angarishebi, (accessed 13.01.2018).
 Report on Progress in the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Protection of Human Rights in Georgia 2014-2020, and Recommendations as to Future Approaches, Maggie Nicholson; available at: http://ewmi-prolog.org/images/files/4265ReportonimplementationHumanRightsStrategyENGEWMIUNDP.PDF, (accessed 18.01.2018).
 Human Rights Action Plan approved by the Government of Georgia, 26.07.2016, Chapter III, Activity 188.8.131.52., available at: http://myrights.gov.ge/uploads/files/docs/2085HRActionPlan16-17ENG.PDF, (accessed 07.03.2018).
 Ibid, Activity 184.108.40.206.
 Ibid, Activity 220.127.116.11.
 Ibid, Activity 18.104.22.168.
 Ibid, Activity 3.1.5.
 Ibid, Activity 22.214.171.124.