Monday | 22 April, 2019

Perceptions of prosecutors’ and judges’ wheelings and dealings

On January 19th, 2019 the Rustavi 2 TV channel broadcast an investigative documentary Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty produced. The documentary “Judges in the Government’s Service” followed up on the government’s attempted confiscation of Constanta Bank from its founders in 2011. It further hinted at alleged misconduct by the prosecutors and judges.

Between January 28 and February 4, 2019 CRRC-Georgia conducted a follow-up phone survey to find out whether and how the public viewed the documentary. The survey asked about a number of issues presented in the documentary including:

  • If people knew that the Department to Investigate Offenses Committed in the Course of Legal Proceedings existed in the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia; 
  • Generally, in their opinion, how likely it was that the Prosecutor’s Office effectively prosecuted representatives of the justice system (judges, prosecutors) if it found they had committed offences in the course of legal proceedings;
  • How frequent or rare cases of judges in Georgia making deals with the government to have decisions favorable for them are;
  • If they could recall a specific, recent case of government representatives seizing property from private individuals. 

The phone survey resulted in 804 completed interviews. Its results are representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.6%. Results discussed in this blog are based on all completed interviews (804) and are weighted to the demographic characteristics of the population.

The documentary was broadcast on Rustavi 2 and shared on the websites and social media pages of Radio Liberty and Studio Monitor. Only 3% of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country reported watching the film. Most of them (66%) saw it on Rustavi 2. Most respondents that saw the film (54%) found it convincing.

A small share of the public had heard of the Department to Investigate Offenses Committed in the Course of Legal proceedings. Only 12% of the adult Georgian-speaking population had heard that a special department was established at the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to investigate offences committed in the course of legal proceedings. A large majority (87%) did not know about it.

People are often uncertain about the Prosecutor’s Office serving as a neutral actor in relation to the judiciary. About a quarter (26%) said it was fully likely or more likely than unlikely that the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted judges and prosecutors if it found that they had committed offences in the course of legal proceedings. About the same share (27%) reported that it was more unlikely than not or entirely unlikely that the Prosecutor’s Office effectively prosecuted representatives of the justice system. For the most part, people found it hard to respond to this question and the most frequent response was ‘Don’t know’ (46%). One percent of respondents refused to answer the question.

As for judges making deals with the government, about a third (30%) of the population reported that in their opinion it was frequent, 27% said it was rare, and only 6% responded that it was never the case. A plurality (37%) could not answer the question.

Few people can recall a case of the government seizing private property. Respondents were asked to recall a specific, recent case of a government representative seizing property from private individuals. Only 1% could. Respondents generally said they did not know (49%), they could not recall a specific case (46%), or refused to answer the question (4%). Only a few people named specific cases. Those that did pointed to the Omega caseTBC Bank case, and Anzor Kokoladze case.

Overall, the data suggests a small share of the public is aware of the Prosecutor’s Office’s department for investigating crimes committed during legal proceedings. They are also generally uncertain about how the Prosecutor’s Office would deal with issues in the judiciary.

The phone survey conducted in January 28-February 4, 2019 resulted in 804 completed interviews. Its results are representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.6%. They survey is part of the “Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME)” project funded by the European Union. 

This blog post has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CRRC-Georgia and IDFI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

04.08.2014 | Monday

A look at (in)Justice in Georgia as charges are brought against ex-President Saakashvili

On July 28, 2014 charges were announced against the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili concerning the abuse of power. These charges make Saakashvili the highest public official from the former UNM government to be summoned by the prosecutor’s office to date.
27.07.2011 | Wednesday

Rule of Law in Georgia - Opinions and Attitudes of the Population

As a part of the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing Competition held by CRRC in the spring of 2011, we would like to present the second report (the first report was published recently) written by Salome Tsereteli-Stephen. The report deals with the rule of law in Georgia and here is a short summary of Salome’s findings and an analysis of the subject.
28.07.2011 | Thursday

Upswing of Transition in Georgia

This past summer, Freedom House launched the 14th edition of its Nations in Transit (NIT) report. The publication comprehensively monitors democratic developments in 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia, amongst them Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. CRRC is represented in the report with data from the 2010 Corruption Survey in Armenia.
20.11.2017 | Monday

Was the population informed about the constitutional reform in Georgia?

After 10 months of discussions, the parliament of Georgia adopted amendments to the constitution of the country on September 29th and overrode the president’s veto on October 13th, 2017. The most widely discussed amendments are about rules for electing the president, self-governance principles, the definition of marriage, the sale of agricultural land to foreigners, the minimum age of judges and the country’s foreign policy  orientation. Because of the importance of the amendments, one would expect a high level of awareness among the population. However, despite the public meetings held and media coverage of the issue, according to the CRRC/NDI survey from June 2017, a majority of the population of Georgia was not aware of the constitutional reform process.
01.08.2018 | Wednesday

Most dog owners in Tbilisi vaccinate their dogs, but few spay or neuter them

Based on the findings of a phone survey of the population of Tbilisi, conducted by CRRC-Georgia for the British charity Mayhew in November, 2017, 15% of Tbilisi households have one or more dogs at home. A majority of dog owners reported their dogs were vaccinated at the time of survey, but few spay or neuter them.
21.10.2019 | Monday

Selection of Supreme Court judge candidates: What people in Georgia know and think about the process

Following the constitutional amendments and changes to the organic law of Georgia on common courts, the minimum number of judges at the Supreme Court increased to 28. At the same time, 10-year appointments were changed to lifetime tenures, and the High Council of Justice was given the authority to nominate candidates for parliamentary appointment. Following these changes, the High Council of Justice started the selection of Supreme Court judge candidates and in the beginning of September 2019 provided a list of 20 candidates to be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for approval. Interviews with candidates were live streamed and the process enjoyed wide media coverage.
08.11.2019 | Friday

People are divided over the independence of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia

On February 23rd, 2019, Rustavi 2 broadcasted an investigation that Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty carried out titled “8 Years in Search of Justice”. The film focused on the Georgian Railway not paying a fair price to citizens when buying lands from them to build a railway bypass. The film also covered the court case about the issue. On March 7-15, 2019 CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey to find out whether people watched the film and what their attitudes were towards the issues raised in it. The survey also contained questions measuring attitudes towards the Prosecutors Office of Georgia (PO). The data suggest that people are divided over the PO and that those with experiences with the PO have more negative attitudes than those that have not had interactions with the PO.
08.11.2019 | Friday

Survey experiment: more than a quarter of people in Georgia think that Prosecutor’s Office fulfills its duties non-objectively

Several blog posts (see here and here) on Social Science in the South Caucasus have shown that the population of Georgia is split in their views of the Prosecutor’s Office (PO). In the phone survey held in March 2019, carried out for the Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME) project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, CRRC-Georgia carried out a survey experiment to better understand under what circumstances people trust and do not trust the Prosecutor’s Office.
15.06.2020 | Monday

Attitudes towards policing and the judiciary in Georgia

The world has seen large protests in response to the police murder of George Floyd, including in Tbilisi. Although Georgia underwent significant police reform following the Rose Revolution, the country’s harsh criminal justice policies were also criticized under the UNM, with police killings and the country attaining the ignoble distinction of having the fourth highest prison population per capita in the world. The Georgian Dream government also undertook a number of criminal justice reforms. Still, GD too have implemented controversial policing policies and had numerous scandals. Police murders remain an issue, police drove a boy to suicide in 2019 (and 2016), and for a time police in Tbilisi were implementing a policy resembling New York’s stop and frisk (notably, the UNM also attempted to do so). The police raid of the Bassiani night club and police violence in dispersing protesters in June 2019 were also widely condemned. Clearly, Georgia continues to face challenges with rule of law and law enforcement, ranging from misuse of power in criminal cases to general policing policy and crowd control during protests. But what does the public think?
06.07.2020 | Monday

Georgians’ perceptions about equality at court

Attitudes toward the judicial system have been one of the most discussed and researched topics in Georgia. CRRC’s past blogs have shown that Georgians’ perceptions of court system fairness have been at low levels throughout the last decade and that attitudes toward court system (im)partiality are associated with rates of  trust toward the court system and people working in the court system. A recent CRRC study also highlighted division among the public regarding trust in judicial institutions. This blog post contributes to this conversation through describing views on the fairness of courts in Georgia, showing its broader inter-relations with trust in institutions, political views, and general perceptions of the government’s treatment of citizens.