Anti-corruption efforts, combating domestic violence, “criminal underworld” in focus of Prosecutor General’s 2022 report

 Prosecutor General Irakli Shotadze on Tuesday presented his body’s nine-month report. Photo: Prosecutor General’s press office, 06 Dec 2022 - 17:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office on Tuesday presented its nine-month report covering the body’s efforts including work against corruption, domestic violence and “criminal underworld”, as well as a vision and action plan to further increase its “institutional and organisational”  effectiveness. 

Addressing a 15-member Prosecutorial Council in charge of supervising the activities of the body, Prosecutor General Irakli Shotadze said the report also reflected the 2022-2027 strategy and action plan that covered intentions to more effectively combat certain crimes and the moves for institutional development of the Office. 

Shotadze said the body’s “strict criminal justice policy” for serious crimes like offences against life, robbery, extortion, acts against sexual freedom and inviolability, bribery, organised crime, membership in the criminal underworld, drug trafficking, transnational fraud and others had been exercised due to their “severe and irreparable consequences to the public”. 

It is of utmost importance to implement an effective criminal justice policy which should ensure strengthening of the state, public security and law and order, crime prevention, protection of citizens' rights and freedoms, compensation for damages to victims and resocialisation of offenders”, said Shotadze, the first Prosecutor General elected by the Georgian Parliament. 

“Child-friendly” justice 

Shotadze said in a bid to ensure a child-friendly justice system based on the “best interests of minors”, his body had implemented a number of measures, and the quality of diversion procedures and criminal prosecutions against minors had been improved. 

Prosecutorial Council listening to the Prosecutor General's nine-month report. Photo: Prosecutor General's press office. 

Citing the direction as a “priority”, the official claimed decision-making over cases involving juveniles had been ensured “in the shortest terms possible”. 

We use alternative mechanisms of criminal prosecution in terms of minors in conflict with the law, which increases the effectiveness of [their] resocialisation and rehabilitation”, he told the Council. 

“Large-scale involvement” required to prevent gender-based crimes 

In his address, the Prosecutor General also pointed to a need for “large-scale engagement” of both state institutions and the public in preventing and combating gender-based crimes.

The difficulty of this crime is that there are cases of recidivism, and unfortunately, in practice, we see that in some cases the crime begins with ordinary violence and ends fatally. The current reality shows that prevention of such crimes is very difficult due to the close relationship between a perpetrator and a victim. Therefore, at this stage, the fight against such crime is  possible with a strict criminal law policy”, he said.

“However, efforts of law enforcement agencies alone are not sufficient. The involvement of other state agencies, domestic and international organisations and every member of the public is important”, Shotadze noted. 

He said in the first nine months of this year, his office requested arrest for domestic violence in 85 percent of cases, while the figure stood at 22 percent for other crimes, with the court approving 57 percent of petitions for detention. 

New unit created to combat “increased” cyber crime 

Briefing the Prosecutorial Council over the report, Deputy Prosecutor General Bakur Abuladze said a specialised department had been created in the body to combat “increased” levels of cyber crime. 

The main goal of the new department is to reveal cyber crime, respond to reports about the cases, and carry out effective investigations and criminal prosecutions”, he noted. 

Deputy Prosecutor General Bakur Abuladze presenting the part of the report. Photo: Prosecutor General's press office. 

The official added the department had launched investigations into nine cases over the past three months, with three individuals charged, ₾1,643,000 ($601,228) in property and ₾1,500,000 ($548,900) in crypto currency seized. 

Abuladze said a digital laboratory equipped with a special licensed digital investigation tools and related necessary equipment had been set up in the department thanks to support by the United States Embassy and the US Department of Justice, which he said “significantly increases its capabilities and makes it efficient in combating large-scale cyber crime”.

Anti-corruption efforts among “top priorities” of 2022-2027 action plan 

Abuladze said combating corruption had been declared among priorities of the body’s  2022-2027 action plan. “An effective fight against corruption is a particularly important task in a democratic society, because corruption threatens the rule of law and human rights”, he stressed. 

He pointed out a specialised unit - the Department of Criminal Prosecution of Corruption Crimes -  had been created in the body and staffed by “experienced professionals”. 

Work is currently underway in the body for a structural reform aimed at strengthening the unit and appointing specialised investigators in all regional representations”, Abuladze said. 

The official also revealed investigations had been launched in 172 cases involving corruption in the public sector this year, with 115 public servants charged.

It should be noted that in the first nine months of this year, six individuals holding high positions were found guilty by the court of commiting [corruption] crimes”, Abuladze said. 

Financial investigation practice launched to combat “criminal underworld”

Abuladze said the Prosecutor General’s Office had launched the practice of financial investigation to fight “criminal mentality” and the “criminal underworld” “more efficiently”.

As part of the investigation, illicit financial or material assets obtained as a result of criminal activities by members of the criminal underworld are sought”, he said, adding “we already have concrete results” in the work. 

The Deputy Prosecutor General said investigations had been launched against 67 individuals in the first nine months of this year, with 32 charged with membership of the criminal underworld, five for holding criminal authority, 13 for supporting the criminal underworld and 17 for addressing the criminal underworld for resolution of disputes.