SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF GEORGIA AT THE PARLIAMENT WITHIN THE SCOPE OF INTERPELLATION Print Version

2019-03-22

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Today, we meet each other for the first time within an interpellation format, which is a completely new platform for cooperation of the Parliament and Government of Georgia. Indeed, introduction of this format was made possible during our presence in power. Moreover, we turned it into a constitutional norm. Primarily, it is a sign of respect towards our people. It is our political vision and kind will to appear at the Parliament of Georgia and answer all the questions.

Such interaction between the Parliament and Government of Georgia is indeed a significant progress. Our entire team, every member of the Government gives answers to questions posed by the Parliament and I think that past three days have demonstrated this very well.

As for the topic of today, before we judge or conclude we need to primarily inquire into the essence of the topic.

Before answering your question, we need to first clarify whether the crime rate has indeed deteriorated in the country and whether the actual number of offences have been increased. Also, we need to clarify the interests of parties engaged in the interpellation.

Your attempt of misleading the society rests within the wording of our question, which imperatively asserts that allegedly crime rate has been increased and this increase is as if sharp.

I believe that another attempt to mislead the general public and to create a wrong perception and expectation that authorities allegedly fail to control the situation in the country, ensure security of citizens or overall, claiming that everything seems rather gloomy in the country.

It is clear that we are distanced by different values. This is even logical and could not be otherwise, as we have different mindset towards a lot of issues and will never agree. At the same time, I have a very good understanding of the role and significance of the opposition. Therefore, I stand ready to listen to objective remarks and suggestions, sharp criticism, provided they are motivated with interests of the subject-matter and based on objective reality.

Truth and responsibility, quality control and accountability is key to us. No matter how unpleasant it may seem to our political opposition, they will have to listen to the truth.

At the outset let me say that your allegation that country is in catastrophic situation in terms of crime rate, is very far from the reality.

Since coming to power, our team started to implement fundamental reforms, which have been carried out in a consistent manner since 2012. These efforts include initiatives towards every public institution responsible for the prevention, investigation and supervision of offences and execution of justice. Overall, it has altered the attitude and approach towards statistical records-keeping, as it has become accurate, precise and transparent. Methodology of statistical records has been altered since 2018 and new approach has been introduced. It is much more significant and manifests a sovereign mindset, as Government and society need to control and most accurately record any fact, even if all the signs of crime are not vividly apparent, with their nature, gravity and probability of case resolution.

Truth is that openness and transparency has become and will always be one of the priorities of the law enforcement system for our team in power since 2012. That is, we fundamentally changed the attitude towards records-keeping on crime and offences, thus approximating to the international standards.

Truth is that above-listed circumstances have led to 54% increase of crime rate in 2018 in contrast with 2017, which results from a considerable improvement in the accuracy of records-keeping, rather than deterioration of the crime rate. It is important to consider the type and nature of a registered offence, referral to police and other factors if we wish to draw conclusions on the real crime rate in the country.

Truth is that analysis of types of crime indicates that grave and profoundly grave offence data are either unchanged or reduced, while increase has been conditioned by the particularly high referral or improved records-keeping. Let me present some of the indicators: namely, number of murders in 2018 have been changed in contrast with 2017, while burglary and intentional damage to human health have been particularly reduced - by almost 18%.

Truth is that increased public awareness in a number of categories of crime, implemented reforms and increased trust towards law-enforcement bodies have boosted the referrals to police. Such categories include: corporal punishment, harassment and other crimes.

As the same time, increase is mainly conditioned by the crimes committed towards private property and health damages. It should be noted also that we are predominantly talking about thefts and light damages of human health, i.e. that very category of offences that are directly correlating with an improved records-keeping.

I need to address the society and tell them that Government of Georgia and our law-enforcement bodies do their best to make all of us live in a peaceful and safe environment, while an adequate measure is taken against the offenders as promulgated in the law.

I wish to remind you and I am convinced that all remember it well that police under-recorded offences that had poor prospects of resolution in the past and citizen complaints and grievances were not accepted either.

It was a harmful practice and self-deception. It was how the society of this country was misled and what has been left in the past. If we look into the types and structure of crimes, we will see well that 62% of offences recorded in 2018 are those that were under-recorded in the past, but are registered in a most comprehensive way nowadays.

It is logical that indicators of harassment, damages to property, actions leading to suicide are increased. Indicator of chase has been increased several fold, which was never recorded before.

Irrespective of the fact that I am convinced that each of us know this very well, I still explained and clarified it to make sure that objective reality was shared with the general public.

Now I will use the time allotted to me today and add several significant issues. Of course, nobody tries to ascertain that everything is well and no problems exist in the country. Unfortunately, some people in the country are still loyal towards the criminal mentality and this is indeed a serious problem. Nevertheless and on the other side, each of us have experienced the consequences of the so called Zero Tolerance and Jail Everyone Policy of the previous team in power. By the way, these slogans were heard in this plenary hall back in those days and many of you applauded to the notorious mindset.

We challenge crime rate with a policy defined by the law, as fight against crime in democratic countries is not fought at the expense of human rights and it will never be the case in Georgia. It will never threaten the human health, dignity and honor of individuals. Our political team in power is aimed at a genuine change and improvement of the current situation. Wherever needed, we will make amendments to the legislation. In other cases, we will carry out reforms to make sure that law-enforcement bodies operate with high efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service.

Our authorities are implementing substantial reforms and will carry on doing so.

Also, preventive mechanisms are introduced in every law-enforcement body within the scope of reforms.

It needs to be mentioned that monitoring of the investigation quality is duly performed. Human Rights Protection Department was established at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia for this very purpose in 2018.

Hence, all these measures and reforms that have been launched and successfully implemented will by all means result in more effective and efficient performance of the police. Naturally, this is a significant precondition for a safe environment to exist in Georgia.

Lastly, we continue fight against crime and believe that turning point should be the public order, security of each citizen and visitor of our country.

We will never go back to the past. We continue implementing progressive and irreversible reforms, as only objective information sharing, objective statistical records-keeping, disclosure of a real picture will make us capable of overcoming these challenges and issues towards this end within Georgia.

 

Prime Minister's Press Office