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At the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, MP Chiora Taktakishvili, stated: "Multiple important documents were published in 2014. These included the OSCE Trial Monitoring Report, the Council of Europe Human Rights Report for 2014, the US Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Council of Europe documents and reports of other international organisations which say that the politicised Prosecutor’s Office hampers and impedes Georgia’s European integration."

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

The 2014 OSCE Georgia Trial Monitoring Report describes those specific cases which might be perceived as political pressure on the Prosecutor’s Office. For instance, the report underscores: "During the monitoring period, the media reported a number of public statements by high-ranking Georgian officials regarding potential prosecutions against the former President and other members of the political opposition. It is imperative that officials refrain from making public statements that might create doubt as to the integrity of the judicial system and that might suggest that they possess any authority over prosecutorial decision-making."

The US Department of State’s Country Reports

on Human Rights Practices for 2014 emphasises that the constitution and the law forbid selective arrests and imprisonment although the Government of Georgia has not been very consistent in observing this principle. Criminal prosecutions launched against members of the opposition are particularly highlighted in this context as examples of violations of both human rights and legal procedures. On 12 September 2014, the US Department of State issued a special statement which says that politicised prosecutions would pose a risk for Georgia’s democracy.

In 2014, the European Commission, which is the executive organ of the European Union, published a report entitled Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Georgia. The report underlines that criminal prosecutions should be conducted in a transparent and impartial manner, free from political motivation and based upon evidence. The European Commission also calls upon the Government of Georgia to finalise the reform of the Prosecutor’s Office and ensure its accountability to the public (p. 5).

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also adopted a special resolution

in 2014. According to the resolution, the General Assembly expresses concern about allegations that the arrests and prosecution of a number of former government officials are politically motivated and calls upon the Georgian authorities to ensure that the investigation and prosecution of former government officials are conducted impartially, transparently and in full respect of the principles of a fair trial (p. 10). The resolution mentions cases against Mikheil Saakashvili, Vano Merabishvili, Gigi Ugulava, Bacho Akhalaia and Zurab Adeishvili.

Apart from the reports published by international organisations, several high-ranking EU officials also made similar statements in 2014. According to the statement of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, criminal investigations and prosecutions should be evidence-based, transparent, free of political motivation, impartial, and adhere strictly to principles of due process, in line with the commitments undertaken by Georgia in the Association Agreement. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Karl Bildt, also underscored the negative consequences of politically motivated persecution. Mr Bildt commented upon the decision to launch criminal prosecution against the former President of Georgia and stated that those types of processes were harmful for the country.

Conclusion

Chiora Taktakishvili is right to point out the recommendations from the aforementioned reports. These reports do indeed include doubts and concerns with regard to the politicised Prosecutor’s Office, selective justice and politically motivated persecution.

The MP is not right to assert that these documents name the politicised Prosecutor’s Office as a significant obstacle for the country’s Western integration. Even though there are outspoken remarks in the texts about the political influence upon the Prosecutor’s Office and selective justice which inflict damage to both Georgian democracy and the country’s image, there are no direct links between these processes and the hampering of Georgia’s Western integration in any of the 2014 reports.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Chiora Taktakishvili’s statement is HALF TRUE.

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