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Several persons were already prosecuted for stalking

19.03.2018

 
Natia Gogolashvili

Stalking has become punishable under the Criminal Code of Georgia for several months already. The new punishable crime was added to the Code on May 4, 2017 and went in force since May 25. 

On January 24, 2017 the Government of Georgia approved the draft legislative amendments to the Law on Domestic Violence. About 20 articles of the law were amended. The purpose of the changes was to better protect the women’s rights and to make the Georgian legislation coherent with the Istanbul Convention.

“Stalking”(Article 1511 Part I of the Criminal Code of Georgia) is an illegal monitoring, personally or through a third person, of a person, his/her family member or a close relative, or establishment of an undesirable communication by a telephone, an electronic or other means, or any other intentional action conducted regularly and causing mental torture to a person, and/or a reasonable fear of using coercion against a person and/or his/her family member or a close relative, and/or of destroying property, which makes the person substantially change his/her lifestyle, or creates a real need for changing it; The action shall be punished by a fine or by imprisonment for a term of up to two years.

Nongovernmental organization Sapari was author of the legislative initiative: “In March 2014, Union Sapaari and GCRT (Georgian Center for Psycho-Social Rehabilitation of Torture Victims), based on the EU mandated survey, elaborated a legislative initiative to offer the Ministry of Justice to introduce amendments into the chapter on sexual crimes in the CCG. One part of the initiative was about stalking, and it was included in the chapter on the crimes against human rights and freedoms. In April 2015, Sapari elaborated a special draft-law about illegal surveillance and stalking and handed to the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry changed the term “stalking” in the bill prepared by Sapari into “illegal surveillance” and “chasing,” the statement of Sapari reads.

Sapari is working on the case of Nino A. who was abused by completely unknown man since 2012 for years. 

Before applying to Sapari, Nino was subject of illegal surveillance and unpleasant communication. This situation caused her psychological torture and compelled to change the life style. Namely, she was accompanied only by her father and changed working place and phone numbers several times; she could not leave home late in the evening, etc. With the support of Sapari, Nino A applied to law enforcement bodies. The investigation started under Article 1511 of the GCC which applies to stalking. As a result of active engagement of the organization, police issued restraining order on gender-based violence against the woman and on October 12, 2017 the Tbilisi City Court satisfied the claim of the Sapari to issue defense order on the beneficiary. It is noteworthy that after the Istanbul Convention was ratified, the Court rarely issues defense orders in relation to stalking cases – the new crime punishable under the GCC. In the law, the stalking is clarified as  an illegal monitoring, personally or through a third person, of a person, his/her family member or a close relative, or establishment of an undesirable communication by a telephone, an electronic or other means, which makes the person substantially change his/her lifestyle, or creates a real need for changing. The action is punishable by imprisonment for a term of up to two years,” the October 2017 statement of Sapari reads.

Lawyer of Human Rights Center Tamar Lukava defends rights of M.A. The lawyer said the beneficiary accuses her neighbor into the crime punishable by Article 1511 of the GCC. 

“M.A said her neighbor systematically watched her, verbally insulted and established unpleasant communication via electronic or other means that caused M.A to sustain physical torture and fear to use violence against her family members and/or destroy the property; consequently the family members have to change the life-style,” Tamar Lukava said. 

Georgian Young Lawyers Association also worked on the case of stalking. According to the GYLA, in July 2017 the Tbilisi City Court issued defense order in the term of 6 months to protect the victim woman from harassment.

“The woman was victim of psychological harassment from the man. Apart to other actions, he was chasing her, that means establishment of unpleasant communication with the victim and illegal surveillance, which causes psychological torture and forces to significantly change life-style. In accordance to the regulations acting before June 1, 2017 a victim could not protect herself with restraining or defense orders and there was no criminal provision, which could assess the action as stalking. The Court considered the arguments of the GYLA’s advocates and passed a precedent judgment, which ensures different defense mechanisms to protect the woman from psychological harassment (stalking),” the statement of the GYLA reads.

Tabula reported that in 2017 investigation started into 19 cases under the charge of stalking. Ministry of Internal Affairs provided Tabula with the information about it.
According to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, they started criminal liability against 10 persons under Article 1511 of the GCC. The PO states there were no reports about suspended persecution and derivation. 

As for the court judgments, in 2017 the common courts accepted and discussed 6 appeals on stalking. As Tabula was notified from the Supreme Court of Georgia, the people appealed courts in Khelvachauri, Zugdidi, Kutaisi and Samtredia. 

Khelvachauri district court discussed 2 cases (Article 111-1511 and Article 1511 of the GCC) and passed guilty verdict in both of them; conditional sentence was imposed on the convicted people.

Zugdidi district court discussed one case (Article 1511 of the GCC) and passed guilty judgment; conditional sentence was imposed on the convict. 
Kutaisi city court discussed one case (Article 1511 of the GCC) and sent the case back to the prosecutor’s office for derivation. 
 
Samtredia district court discussed two cases, where the stalking was not basic article applied:
 
Applicant claimed violation of the Articles 187 and 1511 of the Criminal Code of Georgia and the court established violation of the Article 187 but acquitted the accused person in the charge under Article 1511.

In the second case, where applicant claimed violation of the Articles 143 and 1511 of the GCC, the court passed guilty judgment and sentenced the accused person to imprisonment.

The court found one more person guilty in stalking on January 29, 2018. The case was discussed in the Zugdidi district court. According to the prosecutor’s office V.Tch was disseminating defaming information about S.Sh via social networks and other electronic means. As a result, the victim permanently felt insulted, degraded and blackmailed that caused her torture and because of permanent surveillance she could not enjoy freedom of movement. Zugdidi city court sentenced V.Tch to two-year imprisonment. 

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