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Georgia: Criminalization of Domestic Violence

(Nov. 5, 2012) On June 12, 2012, the Parliament of Georgia adopted a package of amendments to the country’s Criminal Code and added two new articles that recognize domestic violence as a criminal act. (Law No. 6434 on Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Georgia (June 12, 2012) [in Georgian], Saqartvelos Sakanonmdeblo Matsne [Ministry of Justice of Georgia official website].)

The General Part of the Criminal Code was amended with the insertion of a new article 11, which establishes general responsibility for acts of domestic violence regardless of who committed the act or where it was committed. It also places the responsibility to initiate criminal cases based on acts of domestic violence on the investigative authorities. (Id.)

A new article126, which defines the crime of domestic violence, was added to the Special Part of the Criminal Code. This provision recognizes physical, physiological, economic, and sexual violence or coercion as forms of domestic violence and defines this crime as the “systematic abuse, blackmail, or humiliation of one family member by another if such acts cause physical pain or suffering .. .” (Id.)

The Code contains a list of persons who can be held responsible for the commitment of this crime. They include but are not limited to: a spouse, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, child, adopted child, stepchild, stepparent, stepparent’s spouse, member of a foster family, guardian, grandchild, sister, brother, parent-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, an ex-spouse, or any other person who lives in the household. (Id.)

Sentencing guidelines included in the Criminal Code provide for punishment of this crime by community work for a period of between 80 and 200 hours. If an act of domestic violence was committed against a pregnant woman, a minor, or a disabled person; or in the presence of a minor who witnessed the act of violence against his/her family member; or against two or more people, it is to punishable upon conviction by deprivation of freedom for up to one year. (Id.)

One of the reasons for criminalization of domestic violence is to decrease the spread of this crime, which is an acute problem in Georgia. (Most Cases of Domestic Violence Appear to Be in Kakheti [in Georgian],RADIO TAVISUPLEBA (Mar. 6, 2012).) Another reason, according to a Georgian Parliament statement on the issue, is to bring national “legislation in accordance with the Council of Europe Convention on Combating and Preventing Violence Against Women, which is of huge importance and …. creates a consistent legal framework to prevent violence, to protect victims, and to suppress the impunity of perpetrators.” (Active Measures to Discard Domestic Violence (Report of the Parliamentary Research Department Analytical Section) [in Georgian], Parliament of Georgia website, (June 7, 2012).)

According to statistics reported by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, 973 acts of domestic violence were documented by police during the period 2007-2011. Most of them were acts of psychological (56.8%) or physical violence (36.3 %). The majority of crimes were reported in the capital city of Tbilisi and the region of Adjara. (Domestic Violence, Domestic Conflicts and Juveniles, 2007-2011, Department of Information and Analyses of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia website (last visited Nov. 1, 2012).)

Prepared by Nana Ghvaladze, Law Library Legislative Fellow, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.