Coalition Responds to the Detention of the Musicians and Demur Sturua
 

Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary responds to the verdict passed by Kutaisi City Court on the case of pushing Demur Sturua to committing suicide and to the criminal case ongoing at Tbilisi City Court against the members of Birja Mafia musical band. 

On the day of detention of musicians, the Court found not guilty a police officer charged with abuse of power for pushing Demur Sturua to committing suicide that caused a sense of fair protest in society, and meanwhile the Court sentenced to imprisonment musicians in the criminal case launched on extremely suspicious grounds. Later on, the change of preventive punishment against them due to the developments around the "Birja Mafia" case and statements of political figures, in fact confirmed the problem of polarization of judicial authorities in this case.

Over the years, the main challenge faced by the law enforcement system was the acts of ill-treatment and misconduct, as well as abuse of power by police.  In addition, in recent years the practice of arresting undesirable persons through using the drug-related crime was quite widespread.  Unfortunately, planting drugs on suspects by police officers became a pressing issue again over the last few months.  The repressive drug policy developed under the "Zero Tolerance" policy and still valid  create a comfortable space for the police and prosecutor's office to carry out different types of pressure, coercion and other unlawful targets on citizens.

Unfortunately, no adequate measures have been taken to eliminate the syndrome of impunity in the law enforcement agency and to respond properly to the offenses committed by the police. Till now, the government does not agree with the establishment of an independent investigative body. Improper performance of the controlling power, imposed by the court, directly encourages harmful practices such as falsification of evidence, unjustified restriction of human rights, etc.

The above-mentioned cases clearly reflect this general context. In the above-mentioned cases, the Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into the alleged abuse of power by the police only after strong public protest. This indicates that the judicial authorities are not functioning properly and their action depends largely on the political and social moods created in the country. This excludes the public's belief in the existence of the rule of law in the country. Taking this into consideration it is crucially important not to discuss these complicated problems only on the level of responsibilities of specific police officers. It is also necessary to focus on the need for reforming the repressive drug policy and law enforcement and judicial authorities. Political statements about liberalization of drug policy should be reflected in specific legal reforms in a timely manner. However, the government's response should not be limited to the amendment of drug policy only.

Based on the above mentioned, it is critically important to:

 

  • Adequately understand the problem. High political officials should correctly assess the problem that goes beyond the drug policy and has systemic reasons;

  • Implement the fundamental reform of the court and establish a strong, competent judiciary independent from political groups, executive authorities and law enforcement agencies;

  • Carry out a fundamental reform of the law enforcement system aimed at establishing a modern police, where the risks of ill-treatment and abuse of power by law enforcement officers will be minimized;

  • Thoroughly review the existing repressive drug policy, as a result of which the main focus will be on the rehabilitation and resocialization of the needy people instead of punishment and detention of citizens;

  • Establish an independent investigative mechanism that will be authorized to conduct investigation and criminal prosecution on the facts of possible offense by law enforcement officers.

 

 

 


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