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.

The film “8 Years in Search of Justice” was broadcasted on Rustavi 2 and published on their website. It was also published on the Radio Liberty and Studio Monitor websites and Facebook pages. According to the survey, about 2% of Georgian-speaking citizens watched the film. The vast majority watched it on Rustavi 2, and most who watched the film, found it convincing.

Respondents were asked how much they trust or distrust the Prosecutor’s Office. People are divided, with 40% reporting they fully trust or more trust than distrust the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. A similar share (39%) reported they do not trust it. One in five (20%) don’t know or refused to answer the question.

People who have had an interaction with the PO or who have a friend or family member that had an interaction with them in recent years have significantly less trust compared to the general public. In total, 8% of the public fall into this category (having some interaction with the PO). Only 28% of those that have had an experience with the PO trust them and 59% distrust them. By comparison, 38% of those who have not had an experience with prosecutors say that they do not trust them and 41% trust them.

Older people distrust the PO more often. About half (46%) of 18-35 year olds trust the PO, while 38% do not trust them. A further 16% did not know or refused to answer the question. Similar shares in the 36-55 age group trust (45%) and distrust (38%) the PO or don’t know or refused to answer (23%). People over 55, however, are less trusting towards the PO. Only 29% trust the prosecutor’s office of Georgia and 47% distrust it. A similar share (24%) responded don’t know or refused to answer to the question as in other age groups. People with the higher education trust the PO more (47%) than people with secondary (36%) or vocational (35%) education.

People doubt whether the Prosecutor’s Office is independent or not. Less than one in ten (7%) report that the PO is fully independent. One in five (19%) say that it is more independent than not independent, and 32% say the PO is less independent than independent. About one in ten (12%) report that it fully lacks independence. People with higher education think the Prosecutor’s office is independent (32%) more often than people with vocational (23%) or secondary (22%) education. Young people report that the PO is independent more often (37%) than older people (36-55: 22%; 56+: 18%).

People were also asked whether the PO was more independent before or after 2012. About one in ten (13%) say that the PO had been more independent before 2012, while 26% say that it has been more independent after 2012. Still, 28% say that the PO has never been independent, and only 2% answered that it has always been independent. One in three (31%) don’t know or refused to answer this question. Young people are more likely to say that the PO is more independent after 2012 than before compared with older people (18-35: 32%, 36-55: 25%, 56+: 21%). There is little difference between other social and demographic groups.

Citizens are divided when it comes to the trust in the Prosecutor’s Office. Older people in Georgia are less trusting of the Prosecutor’s Office. Those who have experience with the PO are also less trusting. Although more people think that the PO has been more independent since 2012. Just as many say it has never been independent.

The phone survey was conducted in March 4-19, 2019 resulted in 815 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 (815) and are weighted according to main demographic characteristics of the population. They survey is part of 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.

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.