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At the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, the Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Eka Beselia, stated: "The number of cases of pre-trial detention dropped by 34% in 2014. In 2009-2010, the rate of using pre-trial detention was almost 100%, or at least 90%. It started to decrease from 2013."

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

Article 199 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia lists the following preventive measures of restraint: bail, supervision (for minors), proper behaviour and agreement to remain in custody, personal guarantee, commander’s supervision (for military servicemen) and detention. Detention is considered to be the strictest preventive measure and should not be used unless there is a danger that an individual might pursue further criminal activity, escape, intimidate a witness, destroy evidence or if there is a danger that a sentence cannot be enforced.

Eka Beselia points out that before the Georgian Dream government came to power, the rate of using pre-trial detention as a preventive measure was very high in the courts of Georgia. Ms Beselia names two specific years of 2009 and 2010 when the rate fluctuated from 90% to 100%.

FactCheck addressed the Supreme Court of Georgia to obtain official information in this regard. We received statistics

about the results of hearings on cases of pre-trial detentions in Georgia’s courts of first instance in the years of 2009-2015.

Year Mediation to Use Pre-Trial Detention Decision to Use Pre-Trial Detention %
2009 8,713 8,198 94%
2010 8,761 8,109 92.5%
2011 6,948 6,558 94%
2012 4,154 3,819 92%
2013 5,222 3,413 65%
2014 7,176 4,365 60%

As illustrated by the table the court satisfied 8,198 cases of mediation of the Prosecutor’s Office out of 8,713 cases which is 94%. In 2010, 8,109 (92.5%) of the 8,761 total requests for pre-trial detention were satisfied. In 2011 and 2012, the respective numbers were 94% and 92%.

According to Eka Beselia, cases of using pre-trial detention started to decrease beginning from 2013 and dropped by 34% in 2014. In 2013, only 3,413 (65%) of the 5,222 total requests for pre-trial detention were satisfied. Therefore, it is clear that the rate of usage of pre-trial detention has dropped as compared to previous years. In 2014, the court satisfied 4,365 (60%) of the 7,176 total requests for pre-trial detention.

On 22 June 2015, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) held a presentation on the monitoring results of Batumi, Kutaisi and Tbilisi City Courts and Appellate Courts. GYLA underlines: "Judges started using measures other than bail and imprisonment more often than before. In particular, 6% of the defendants were ordered alternative preventive measures whilst 3% were released from the courtroom without any preventive measure. At the same time, the court decisions on ordering imprisonment as a preventive measure were more substantiated than before."

However, the OSCE/ODIH report

which was published at the end of 2014 has to be taken into account with regard to pre-trial detention. In this report, the OSCE calls upon the Parliament of Georgia to introduce mechanisms of the periodic review of pre-trial detentions into legislation where the burden of proof on the prolongation of pre-trial detention as a preventive measure will be carried by the Prosecutor’s Office. In this manner it would be possible to avoid the practice of the automatic prolongation of the pre-trial detention to its maximum of nine months.

In its resolution

published on 1 October 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe indicates that detention should only be used as a measure of last resort and that it should not be used for political purposes.

Transparency International Georgia’s trial monitoring report

indicates that legal gaps in Georgian legislation give the possibility for law enforcement organs to maliciously use pre-trial detention as a preventive measure. For instance, before the expiration of the nine-month pre-trial detention, new charges can be presented and another nine-month period of pre-trial detention is started again. One of the examples of this is Gigi Ugulava’s case where the former Mayor of Tbilisi has been in custody for more than a year without an indictment.

Conclusion

As stated by Eka Beselia, the rate of usage of pre-trial detention in 2009 and 2010 was at 94% and 92%, respectively. The rate dropped to 65% in 2013 and decreased even further to 60% in 2014. Thus, this represents a decrease of 34% and 31% as compared to 2009 and 2010, respectively.

FactCheck concludes that Eka Beselia’s statement is TRUE.

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