08TBILISI2494, GEORGIA: AND JUSTICE FOR ALL–THE NEW POWER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2494 2008-12-30 14:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7101
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2494/01 3651433
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301433Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0640
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002494 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA:  AND JUSTICE FOR ALL--THE NEW POWER 
MINISTRY 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (U) Summary:  In October, amendments to the Constitution 
of Georgia officially authorized the merger of the 
Prosecution Service of Georgia with the Ministry of Justice. 
The Probation and Penitentiary Department, National Forensics 
Bureau and Legal Aid services, which formerly were 
subordinate to the Ministry of Justice, will now become 
separate entities.  Although the details explaining the 
justification of the merger are scant, those who are familiar 
with the ministry say the merger has been in the works since 
2004.  For some, the merger cements the Ministry of Justice's 
status as a "power ministry," on the same level as that of 
the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  A recent press article 
suggested some cross-fertilization -- i.e., the transplanting 
of MOIA Minister Merabishvili protgs into the new 
Prosecutorial Service -- as a precursor to a possible power 
struggle between MOIA and MOJ as they carve out their 
respective roles.  The future of the new separate entities 
also remains unclear.  End Summary. 
 
The New Setup 
 
2.  (U)  According to a non-paper circulated by the Ministry 
of Justice, the merger is the final step in completing reform 
initiated in 2004.  The Prosecution service will now be 
institutionally subordinate to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). 
 The law on the Prosecution Service guarantees that no 
government body or official, including the prime minister and 
the president, can repeal legal acts issued by the Minister 
of Justice and/or officials of the Prosecution Service. 
Thus, the new institutional framework balances prosecutorial 
independence vis-a-vis accountability and transparency in the 
formation of criminal justice policy.  According to Georgian 
law, the Minister of Justice is appointed by the Prime 
Minister, with the consent of the President and approval of 
Parliament.  Zurab Adeishvili, who has served previously both 
as Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General, was recently 
announced as the new Minister of Justice.  The Chief 
Prosecutor, Mamuka Gvaramia, was nominated by the Minister of 
Justice and appointed by the President of Georgia. 
 
3.  (C) On December 3, Emboffs met with Archil Giorgadze and 
Tamar Tomashvil, who previously worked at the Prosecutor's 
Human Rights Department.  Since the merger, their department 
has been eliminated and the work distributed among other 
departments. The MOJ's Department of Public International 
Law, of which Giorgadze is the Deputy Head, now works on 
human rights and trafficking-in-persons issues, as well as 
international relations.  Some of the functions of the former 
Human Rights Department in the previous Prosecutor General's 
office were also delegated to the General Inspection 
Department, which supervises investigations, implementation 
of laws and procedural issues. 
 
MOIA and MOJ--the Power Couple 
 
4.  (C)  On December 3, Alia, a gossipy Georgian tabloid, 
featured an article on the relationships between MOIA and 
MOJ, musing aloud about the recent appointees. The article 
suggested that some recent appointments within the 
Prosecution Service -- Gvaramia and David Sakvarelidze 
(Deputy Prosecutor) -- are rewards for past work on 
high-profile cases.  Gvaramia was involved in two cases -- 
Pridon Injia and Giorgi Sanaia -- during the Shevardnadze 
era, and Sakvarelidze instituted criminal charges against 
Mikhail Kareli (former Shida Kartli governor), Vasil 
Makharashvili (mayor of Gori) and Marlen Nadiradze (chairman 
of the Gori City Council). Giorgi Chkheidze, Georgian Young 
Qof the Gori City Council). Giorgi Chkheidze, Georgian Young 
Lawyers Association, told Emboff that most people were 
surprised that neither Nick Gvaramia (appointed Minister of 
Education on December 10 -- no known relation to Mamuka) nor 
Giorgi Latsabidze (former acting prosecutor general) was 
tapped as prosecutor general.  The Alia article portrays 
Mamuka's appointment as a victory for one of Merabishvili's 
protgs and a loss for Giga Bokeria, First Deputy Foreign 
Minister, whose personal pick was Nick Gvaramia.  The same 
article in Alia attributes the selection of Mamuka to a 
handshake deal between Merabishvili and Adeishvili to do some 
cross-pollination between the two organizations. 
 
Probation and Penitentiary Ministry 
 
5.  (C)  According to the reorganization plan, the Probation 
and Penitentiary Service will become an independent entity as 
of January 1, 2009, and the head of the service will be a 
cabinet-level minister.  The prison system has chronic 
problems, and building new prisons does not seem to have 
addressed the overcrowding effectively.  On December 16, 
Bacho Akhalaia, was appointed a Deputy Minister of Defense, 
 
TBILISI 00002494  002 OF 002 
 
 
leaving his role as Head of the Probation and Penitentiary 
Service.  Akhalaia is a controversial figure whose 
involvement in quelling prison riots in 2006 is questionable. 
 Who will head the new Ministry following his departure 
remains unclear. 
 
Legal
Aid Services 
 
6. (C)  Chkheidze told Emboff that the Legal Aid Service was 
previously subordinate to MOJ, but this subordination was due 
to inertia rather than a fully thought-out plan.  Beginning 
in 2011, the Legal Aid Service plans to provide services for 
indigent persons in civil and administrative cases. The Legal 
Aid Service is entrusted with the coordination of legal aid 
throughout the country, and its future subordination is the 
subject of active debate within the Legal Committee in 
Parliament.  The MOJ is currently preparing a draft law on 
the future subordination of the Legal Aid Services, due out 
in March 2009.   Emboffs attending the November 6 Legal 
Committee hearings noted that the meeting was chaired by the 
deputy chairman of the Committee, and the deputy minister of 
justice also helped lead the discussion.  Many NGOs that work 
on rule-of-law programs also participated in the discussion. 
Most NGOs seemed to agree that the Legal Aid Service should 
be a free-standing entity or attached in some way to the 
Ombudsman's Office.  The deputy chair and the deputy 
minister, however, advocated attaching it to the Penitentiary 
Department.  Most NGOs pointed out that the image of Legal 
Aid Services will be a poor one if attached to the department 
responsible for detention and imprisonment.  This arrangement 
would hardly support the notion of independence and equality. 
 In addition, the service would presumably be responsible for 
representing persons accused of crimes committed within the 
jails and prisons or while on probation, and there would 
therefore appear to be a clear conflict of interest. 
 
National Forensics Bureau (NFB) 
 
7.  (C)  Under the new law to take force January 1, 2009, the 
head of the NFB will be appointed by the president of Georgia 
and will be a separate entity.  This move is based on the 
recommendation of UN Special Rapporteur on Torture  Manfred 
Nowak.  Post has advocated since 2006 for an independent 
government institution with oversight by a board of directors 
comprised of participating ministries.  Past problems 
associated with the NFB have been a reluctance on the part of 
the MOIA to agree on sharing caseloads and issues stemming 
from the assignment of responsibilities for various forensics 
functions to one ministry. To date, the NFB has received more 
than 3 million U.S. dollars in U.S. technical assistance.  An 
efficient forensics bureau will be key in the collection and 
preservation of evidence linked to criminal investigations 
under the new Criminal Procedure Code.  Given the NFB's new 
status and receipt of significant USG assistance, it is hoped 
that the NFB will be empowered to play a more significant 
role in the criminal justice process. 
 
The Usual Suspects 
 
8.  (C)  Lia Mukhashvria, Human Rights Lawyer and former 
member of human rights organization Article 42, told Emboff 
that her take is that nothing is new, even with the proposed 
changes.  The same people are in the same positions (in 
particular Adeishvili), so combining these functions now does 
not make the process more transparent, even if it will 
streamline the bureaucracy.  For Mukhashvria, the major 
concern is that the chief prosecutor will not be accountable 
to anyone and cannot be called before Parliament.  Chkheidze, 
on the other hand, considers the merger part of a natural 
Qon the other hand, considers the merger part of a natural 
progression, envisioned in legislation from 2005 and 2007 and 
in approved action plans.  In principle, it could be very 
impressive.  Chkheidze cited Adeishvili's superb managerial 
skills as the key, which would have the ministry running like 
a top.  With regards to the soundness of the merger, 
Chkheidze pointed out to the Legal Committee that the 
justification of "that is the way it is in the U.S. and many 
European countries" was not sound reasoning alone and needed 
to be revisited. Ikali Kotetishvili, who works on the staff 
of the Prosecution Service, told Emboff that the decision was 
purely a political one.  The Venice Commission is also 
concerned with the merger.  According to Kotetishvili, three 
Georgian MPs will travel to Italy to discuss the merger in 
the wider context of judicial transparency. 
TEFFT

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