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On 13 December 2013, at the plenary session of the Georgian Parliament, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Levan Izoria, presented a draft law on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons. He stated:  “Until now, Georgia had virtually no mechanism for revealing illegal immigrants in Georgia or the ways for their deportation. The previous edition of the law contained some entries on the subject of administrative responsibility; there was a note about the National Bureau of Enforcement being responsible for deportation, but the police did not have any legal means to stop a person for an identity check or the general authority to combat illegal migration. The new Law on Police, however, foresees this sort of authority for the police.”

FactCheck

took interest in the abovementioned statement and decided to check its accuracy.

The Law of Georgia on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons (last accessed on 20 September 2013) regulates the entry and stay of aliens in Georgia (Article 2). This law was adopted on 27 December 2005.

One of the objectives of the law is to support international cooperation for preventing illegal and clandestine migration. The law also foresees the prevention of uncontrolled and spontaneous migration and portends to ensure the implementation of a targeted migration policy and the involvement of state organs in the said processes (Article 1, Part 1, Paragraph f). In addition, the descriptive part of the law notes that it regulates the legal grounds for the deportation of aliens and stateless persons residing in Georgia as well as the forms and procedure for deportation, the field of competence and the responsibility of the state institutions participating in the process of deportation (Article 1, Part 2).

An alien can be deported from the territory of Georgia only in accordance with the Georgian legislation and in compliance with the universally recognised principles of international law (Article 3, Paragraph j). The expulsion from the Georgian territory can serve as the basis for the termination of the alien’s stay in Georgia (Article 25, Paragraph 1, Sub-paragraph g).

Section III regulates the liability and deportation of aliens. Article 53 describes the grounds for the deportation of aliens from Georgia:

a) He/she has illegally entered Georgia

b) Legal grounds for his/her further stay in Georgia no longer exist

c) His/her stay comes in conflict with the national security interests of Georgia and the protection of the public order of Georgia

d) His/her deportation is necessary for the protection of the health, rights and legitimate interests of citizens and other persons legally residing in Georgia

e) He/she systematically violates Georgian legislation

f) He/she has obtained legal grounds for entry and stay in Georgia by submitting fraudulent or invalid documents

g) He/she has been sentenced to imprisonment for more than a one-year term for intentionally committing one or more crimes – after the enforcement of sentence

The decision on the deportation of an alien from Georgia is made within seven days by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the Court of Georgia. The ground for launching examination on the issue is a report on the expediency of the deportation of an alien from Georgia which is submitted to a competent decision-making body by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

Any other state institution, which may hold certain data within its field of competence on expediency and validity of the deportation of an alien from Georgia, is obliged to submit the relevant evidence in writing to the body conducting the examination on the case of deportation for further inquiry and the corresponding response. A decision on the deportation made by the Ministry of Justice also defines the term for the voluntary exit of an alien from the territory of Georgia (Articles 54 and 55).

A decision on the deportation of an alien from Georgia is to be enforced by the National Bureau of Enforcement which is a legal entity of public law under the subordination of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia (Article 57, Paragraph 1). All expenses related to deportation are to be covered by an alien subject to deportation or a natural or legal person inviting him/her.

On 20 September 2013, a transitory provision of the law entered into force that obliged the Government of Georgia to adopt a Law on the Deportation of Aliens from Georgia before 1 April 2014. Before the adoption of the new law, based upon Edict No. 401 of 28 June 2006 of the President of Georgia, the regulation on the Deportation of Aliens from Georgia is in force. The present regulation defines the legal grounds, procedures and forms for the deportation of aliens as well as the competence frameworks of the state offices involved in the deportation processes.

According to the regulation, an alien who is to be deported by the decision of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia is given three days to deliberately leave the country; when the decision on deportation is made by the court, the alien is bound to leave the country immediately. The decision on the deportation of an alien from Georgia is enforced by the National Bureau of Enforcement under the subordination of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia (Article 6).

Based upon the current legislation we can argue that the law assigns competences to certain state structures to reveal illegal immigrants (under Article 53) and deport them from the Georgian territory.

A new draft law adopted by the Parliament, although not yet entered into force, contains the following supplementary additions and changes:

The new definition of “deportation” is introduced:  “Activities of the state-authorised agency which aim to enforce the decision about an alien or a stateless person to leave Georgian territory against his/her will, provided legal grounds exist for such action” (Article 2, Paragraph s).

The list of grounds for deportation is enriched by Paragraph t:  an alien is imposed a non-custodial sentence, before serving sentence or a conditional sentence, before the expiration of the probationary period.

According to the draft law, the decision about the deportation of aliens is made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia provided the alien has illegally entered Georgian territory or the legal grounds for his/her further stay in Georgia no longer exist (Article 51, Paragraph 1); in other cases, the decision is made by the court (mediated by the authorised agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs).

The state offices are obliged to submit the relevant documentation confirming the legal grounds for an alien’s deportation to the authorised agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Article 53). The authorised agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs should discuss the issue of the deportation within ten working days and make one of the following decisions in accordance with Georgian legislation:  a) on the exile of an alien from the Georgian territory, b) on the refusal of the deportation of an alien from Georgian territory and c) on postponing the deportation of an alien from Georgian territory (Article 53).

The decision about the deportation is communicated to the alien by the respective authorised agency. He/she is given reasonable time, from ten to 30 calendar days, to leave the Georgian territory without any expenditure from the Georgian state budget. Moreover, Article 55 of the new draft bill also regulates the case of postponing the deportation.

As for the enforcement of the deportation, according to the new draft law, the decision on the deportation of an alien from the Georgian territory is enforced by the authorised agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (Article 58). All expenses related to deportation are to be funded by an alien subject to deportation or a person inviting him/her. These expenses are to be covered partly or fully by the state of Georgia if reimbursement is impossible by the alien subject to deportation or a person inviting him/her (Article 62). The draft bill envisages the arrest of an alien subject to deportation and placement in a temporary detention centre (Chapter X). The draft law also forsees the processing of personal data of aliens (Chapter XII).

The Law of Georgia on Police adopted by the Parliament on 4 October 2013 (entered into force on 1 January 2014) in fact regulates the article on the authority of the police to interrogate and identify a person in order to prevent or avoid the violation of public safety and order (Article 18, Paragraph 1). The older version of the Law on Police adopted on 27 July 1993 did not provide this authority (last accessed on 4 October 2013).

Conclusion

The current Law on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons (last accessed on 20 September 2013) provides the mechanism of deportation involving three state agencies: Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the court. The draft bill assigns these competences to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and the court.

According to the current legislation, deportation expenses should be covered by the alien subject to deportation or a natural or legal person inviting him/her. The draft law imposes this obligation upon the state provided the alien subject to deportation has no necessary funds.

Both the current law and the draft law contain the mechanism of deportation of illegal immigrants. Therefore, Levan Izoria’s statement about not having deportation mechanisms is not entirely accurate. The Deputy Minister is right, however, when saying that the police had no authority to interrogate and identify an alien; although this authority is assigned to the police by the new law and serves as an improvement of the mechanism of identification of illegal immigrants.

Consequently, Levan Izoria’s statement, “Until now, Georgia had virtually no mechanism for revealing illegal immigrants in Georgia or the ways for their deportation. The previous edition of the law contained some entries on the subject of administrative responsibility; there was a note about the National Bureau of Enforcement being responsible for deportation, but the police did not have any legal means to stop a person for an identity check or the general authority to combat illegal migration. The new Law on Police, however, foresees this sort of authority for the police,” is MOSTLY TRUE.

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