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On 14 June 2013 the Parliament of Georgia overrode the Presidential veto on the proposed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure. During the discussions about the alternative bill proposed by the President at the same plenary session, Chiora Taktakishvili, Member of the Parliamentary Minority, clarified why the Parliament should have acquiesced to the Presidential veto.

According to her statement, the position of the Georgian Bar Association was obvious - if the President of Georgia and the Parliament of Georgia would not consider the demands of lawyers; namely, to veto the bill and maintain the right of lawyers (meaning the right to keep and present evidence from the defendant’s side), the lawyers would refer to extreme forms of protest.

FactCheck

wondered how the Presidential veto reflects the demands of the Georgian Bar Association. We checked the accuracy of the fact stated in Chiora Taktakishvili’s statement.

The President vetoed those proposed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure which are related to the rights of the lawyers. Parliamentary Secretary of the President, Dimitri Dzagnidze, presented the President’s remarks to the Parliament.

The President of Georgia considers the exclusion of Article 84 from the Code of Criminal Procedure inadmissible. According to the Article the defendant’s side had a right to keep evidence of particular importance and present it at the court proceedings. According to the President’s remark, this amendment will weaken the defendant’s rights.

Another motivation for the President to use veto power was related to the date of enactment of a number of articles. According to Article 112 of the bill, a lawyer with court’s permission has a right to conduct an investigative activity of requisition. The President offered the enactment of this Article to the Parliament on 1 September of this year instead of 1 September 2014.

On 30 May, members of the Georgian Bar Association organised a protest rally in front of the Parliament building in Kutaisi and symbolically put handcuffs on themselves. They were opposing the proposed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure; namely, Article 84. According to them, the exclusion of Article 84 from the Code of Criminal Procedure limits their rights and this amendment amounts to putting handcuffs on them. Lawyers were also demanding a timely enactment of Article 112.

The Association presented its demands to the Members of the Parliament at the committee hearing on 11 June at which proposed amendments to the Criminal Code were discussed.

The Parliament of Georgia did not take Presidential remarks into consideration and overrode the veto with 92 votes at the plenary session on 14 June 2013.

Conclusion

Presidential remarks to the proposed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure were related to the deadlines of the enactment of the bill and the exclusion of Article 84 from the Code. The Georgian Bar Association had similar demands which were not considered by the Parliament.

Correspondingly, we rate Chiora Taktakishvili’s statement that the President’s remarks coincide with the viewpoint of the Georgian Bar Association and lawyers were calling the Parliament to acquiesce to the veto, TRUE.

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