TBILISI, DFWatch–The government in Georgia is looking to increase police powers.
Police will no longer have the right to stop and search people on ‘reasonable doubt’, but will have powers to do ‘special police control’, which according to the government’s opponents will mean that the government will make it legal for police to stop citizens for unspecified reasons and search their personal items, as well as their car.
Opponents of the government think this will lead to having an uncontrollable powerful police.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has drafted the bill which will amend the police law. This draft defines the rights and obligations of the police, and the issue of hiring and dismissing a policeman, another aspect of the bill also has raised questions and brought on harsh criticism.
“In the end, we can say that the regulations of the relation between police and citizens will change with other institutional and structural issues. The power of the police increases,” representatives of the non-governmental organization Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) said.
The draft is quite long and the whole third chapter is dedicated to the powers of the police, and defines their functions and authority. According to the bill, police will have the right to intervene in the rights of citizens for ‘preventive goals’ in order to avoid ‘potential violation’. That is why the bill suggests new term ‘special police control.’
The draft also defines new police measures, which is questioning, identifying, surface inspection and surveillance, special inspection and special police control.
According to EMC, the draft grants a policeman the right to use these measures if the person has committed a crime in the past or if there is a possibility that he or she will commit a crime in the future.
In addition, the 35-year limit for getting employed in the police will be canceled and there will not be an obligation to go through a preliminary specialization course before getting employed in the force.
The draft also says that an internal audit office must be set up in the police.
Chiora Taktakishvili, an MP from the National Movement, said a few days ago that the draft makes the so-called ‘raids’, which were common during President Eduard Shevardnadze’s times, legal, but now they will have a new name: special police control.
NGO representatives say until the draft is adopted, its author must prove the necessity and reasonability of granting new rights and authority to the police.
Parliament should have reviewed the bill last week but it was postponed for the Friday session. Bbut the Friday session may not be held until the president election, because parliament may stop work for one month in order to spend time on the election campaign. If the parliament doesn’t make an exception, there will not be another session before the election.
The presidential election will be held on October 27.