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Open Letter: November 7 Investigation Should Be Led by Prosecutor General’s Office

A parliamentary inquiry could provide important insights into the events of November 7, but it is no substitute for a prompt and comprehensive criminal investigation led by the General Prosecutor’s Office.

We are aware that the General Prosecutor’s Office has initiated investigations into a handful of cases of possible excessive use of force on November 7, and of the important steps that your government has taken in recent months to diffuse the political crisis. But a prompt, comprehensive, and independent investigation into the use of force on November 7 is still lacking.

A parliamentary inquiry could provide important insights into the events of November 7, but it is no substitute for a prompt and comprehensive criminal investigation led by the General Prosecutor’s Office.

Standards established by the European Court of Human Rights require governments to launch an effective investigation into all allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement personnel and to bring those responsible to account. These standards mandate that an investigation can be effective only if it is prompt, takes all necessary investigative steps, and is capable of leading to the identification and prosecution of those responsible for the crimes.

A parliamentary commission could conceivably be authorized to perform some investigative functions, but it inevitably lacks the capacity and expertise of the General Prosecutor’s Office to identify and prosecute perpetrators, conduct complex forensic examinations, and evaluate large volumes of evidence. For this reason, we question the effectiveness of a parliamentary commission as the sole institution investigating the serious and complex events of March 7.

Throughout the past four years the Georgian government—and you personally—spared no effort to establish public trust in the country’s law enforcement agencies, whose corruption and abusiveness had become legendary under your predecessors. You have at times articulated the enormity of this endeavor and its political and other costs. This cost should not be lost to the grim but very real image of the police beating peaceful protesters of all ages. Enabling the General Prosecutor’s Office, not just parliament, to launch a transparent, effective investigation will go far to help retain public trust in the government to hold police accountable for unlawful conduct.

I thank you for your attention to the concerns in this letter and hope to have the opportunity to continue our dialogue.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Roth
Executive Director

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