Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia Taking Active Stance on Violence against Women and Girls

Date: Friday, August 25, 2017

Combating violence against women and girls (VAWG) and domestic violence (DV) is a key priority for the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia.

Salome Shengelia; Photo: The Prosecutor's Office of Georgia
What activities are taking place within the agency in this respect and what are the future plans? Salome Shengelia, Head of the Division of Human Rights Protection of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, is talking to UN Women.

What has changed in the practice of the Prosecutor’s Office with regard to prosecuting acts of VAWG/DV?

The Prosecutor’s Office has been facing many challenges in recent years, however, we should also celebrate some progress achieved in overcoming some of these shortfalls. In recent years, disclosure rates by DV survivors have increased significantly, so did the number of prosecuted cases. We believe that this is to a certain extent a result of 2015-2016 public campaigns focused on ending VAWG/DV and systemic efforts aimed at capacity building of prosecutors and other professionals of our agency.

There is a special chapter in the 2017-2021 Development Strategy for the Prosecution Service in Georgia dedicated to combating violence against women and domestic violence The agency aims to improve mechanisms for the detection of domestic violence and violence against women crimes,; raise public awareness; conduct effective investigation and criminal prosecution of criminal cases; and build staff capacity in the Prosecutor’s Office. .

We pay special attention to improving internal capacities in order to address efficiently VAWG/DV crimes. With the technical support of UN Women, a special training programme has been developed for prosecutors and more than 10 trainings were conducted over the past two years.

There are guidelines for investigators and prosecutors to use while working VAWG/DV cases. What has been the impact of these guidelines on the efficiency of investigations?

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia conducts a wide-scale study each year to identify challenges in the effective prevention of and response to VAWG/DV; the problems faced during investigation; and the need for the guiding recommendations for prosecutors. In the framework of the study, we analyse criminal cases and identify specific issues. As a result, a recommendation for prosecutors has been issued that elaborated on conducting necessary investigative and procedural activities regarding criminal cases of domestic violence. The recommendation is aimed at enhancing comprehensive investigations into domestic violence crimes, as well as increasing the effectiveness of prosecutorial oversight. An in-depth analysis of VAWG/DV cases will also be conducted this year to guide the prosecutors in addressing such cases and set directions for criminal policy.

The Prosecutor’s Office has a strict approach towards violent crimes and especially towards VAWG/DV cases: the prosecution is focused on applying strict sanctions within statutory frameworks. Alternative measures of criminal responsibility (discretion/diversion) are applied to DV perpetrators only in exceptional cases. The rate of initiating criminal prosecution for DV crimes increased by 50-60% in 2015 and 2016 as compared to 2014, which is the result of an effective prosecutorial oversight.

What are the future steps of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia with regard to VAWG?

Supported by the Swedish Government, UN Women has been our long-standing partner in combating VAWG/DV. We are planning many joint activities this year too. Among them, we will continue to work on professional development of prosecutors and build their qualifications, as well as conduct joint multidisciplinary meetings with the representatives of respective government and non-government sectors to ensure cooperation and enhance multi-sectorial response.

It is very important to carry out preventive measures, especially since the legal awareness of these crimes has been raised thanks to such activities. This has been proven by the increased disclosure by survivors to law enforcement.

Last year, within the framework of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia project “Community Prosecution” and the local coordination body “Local Council”, prosecutors were conducting regular meetings with the population on VAWG/DV issues. We should also point out the video contest “Adolescents against Domestic Violence” that was held within the framework of the “Community Prosecution” project and involved schools from all regions of Georgia. The students presented their videos featuring the negative results of domestic violence. These are the activities focused on prevention and awareness-raising, which continue actively in 2017 as well.