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Public Defender Responds to the Initiative of the Government of Georgia Concerning Postponing the Date of Enforcement of the Procedure of Interrogatio



The Public Defender of Georgia responds to information dispersed by mass-media sources regarding draft bill initiated at the Parliament of Georgia that considers postponing enforcement of certain laws. Provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, which introduce the procedure envisaging interrogation of witnesses only in court and which were supposed to enter into force after December 31, 2013, are among them. According to the provided information, dates of enforcement of certain legal acts are also being changed and their implementation is being postponed. 
The method used by the initiators of the draft bill is unacceptable for Public Defender. Parliament will not be able to thoroughly analyze the draft bill only few days before enforcement. It is essential to evaluate the necessity of adopting the law, as well as its possible positive and negative sides.
At the same time, we would like to highlight the draft bill on changes to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, based on which the Government of Georgia is requesting postponing of the procedure to interrogate witnesses only in court. Public Defender would like to remind the Parliament of Georgia and the Georgian society that since 2009 the enforcement of the given principle is being postponed for the fifth time. This type of attitude is highly unacceptable for Public Defender and he regards that the Parliament of Georgia should not allow indefinite repetition of this precedent. If the draft bill is postponed perpetually, then even the principle of interrogation of witnesses in court and therefore, the principle of equality of adversaries during criminal proceedings will become just a formality. According to the Constitutional Court of Georgia “Even though, the legislative body is entitled to suspend the legislative acts, this should not acquire an infinite nature…this type of attitude towards enforcement of law…will have negative effect on the authority of law and will encourage nihilistic attitude towards the law. Such approach endangers not only realization of the right, but even the existence of the right as such. In this type of environment rights become of formal character and are deprived of their essence.” 
The argument based on which the Government of Georgia is requesting postponing of the procedure of interrogating witnesses at court is unacceptable for Public Defender. Especially, when there was enough time and resources to perform all necessary preparation to introduce this institution in practice. The Public Defender regards that by taking different comparative-law models into account, a compromise regulation can be created that will balance interests of investigation and prosecution as well. At the same time, it is important that during discussion of the draft law, special emphasize is made on whether the initiator of the draft has suggested a clear timeline of activities (including professional trainings for investigators, prosecutors and judges) that would allow the proposed institution to perform properly. 
Considering all of the mentioned above, the Public Defender of Georgia urges the Parliament of Georgia not to adopt drafts that, without proper justification, that delay execution of regulations regarding interrogation of witnesses only in the court. Otherwise, current model of questioning witnesses will stay in power for undetermined period and the latter in certain cases leads to human right violations. 
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