The Committee discussed with the I reading the Bills by Tamar Khulordava, Irine Pruidze, Dimitri Tskitishvili, Tamar Chugoshvili, Akaki Zoidze, Sophio Katsarava, Nino Tsilosani, Archil Talakvadze, Giorgi Gachechiladze, Zaza Khutsishvili, Kakha Kuchava and Shota Khabareli on Criminal Code, and Criminal Code of Practice.
According to the EU Integration Committee, Tamar Khulordava, the changes concern criminal offense: “Organization of illegal stay of Georgian citizens in foreign country for personal financial benefits and facilitation to Georgian citizen in groundless asylum-seeking for financial interests”.
Visa free travel to EU enacted in March, 2017 but unfortunately, the outflow of illegal migration intensified. “Visa free travel is a good opportunity but not an unconditional benefit. When we were granted this opportunity, EU has issued the preliminary conditions should they be violated, visa free would be recalled. Unfortunately, now we are at the stage when recall of visa free travel may be included in the agenda as the number of illegal migration increased. In 2018, the number of asylum-seekers increased with 72%. Another precondition was rejection at the border and this index is increased with 200%. Our European partners are not oriented to terminate the free travel regime and create problems to Georgian citizens. They are committed to facilitate just asking from us making effective steps, including changes to the law making them state that Georgia assumed full responsibility to respond to this problem”.
She stated that throughout EU, facilitation to illegal migration is subject to punishment as it is criminalized in line with the EU directives. The Bill does not envisage responsibility of the persons illegally staying in Schengen.
The Law does not apply EU solely but any illegal migration. Pursuant to the Article 3442 of the Criminal Code, organization of illegal stay of Georgian citizens in foreign country for personal financial benefits and facilitation to Georgian citizen in groundless asylum-seeking for financial interests shall be subject to punishment – detention with 2-4 years.
The aggravated circumstances envisage repetition of the offense by the group and punishment envisages 3-6 years of detention.
Pursuant to the Criminal Code, in view of investigation of the actions stipulated under the Article 344² the covert investigations may be held.
The Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee, Rati Ionatamishvili estimated the Bill: “Visa liberalization and visa free travel are our greatest achievement and responsibility of us all and if this responsibility shall be transformed into the obligation to be reflected in the law, we are ready to approve it”.