Strasbourg, 12.05.2014 – "Continued efforts are needed to enhance public trust in the justice system and to promote equality and minority rights," said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report on his visit to Georgia from 20 to 25 January 2014.
A reduction in the use of pre-trial detention and the increase of acquittal rates by the courts appear to signal a departure from the previous near-automatic endorsement of the prosecution’s motions or reasoning in court decisions. However, continued vigilance is needed to reinforce judicial independence and shield judges from undue interference. Revising the current provision on three-year probationary periods for judges would be an important step.
Concerning allegations about flawed criminal investigations and judicial proceedings against former officials, the Commissioner underlines that the judicial system should be resilient enough to withstand power shifts resulting from elections. "The persistence of allegations of deficiencies in judicial processes involving political opponents is a cause for concern. The Georgian authorities must address this problem by respecting fair trial guarantees, including the presumption of innocence, for everyone." The Commissioner also calls on the authorities to implement "long-overdue reforms to enhance the equality of arms, by strengthening the role of the defence and rigorously pursuing professional development of prosecutors, who are key actors in the justice system." (more...)
Georgia and the Council of Europe