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Legal policy starting point
At the beginning of the IRZ Foundation’s consultation activities in 2006, Georgia’s foreign and domestic political situation was affected by major events such as the war in South Ossetia in August 2008 and the violently ended demonstrations against the President in spring 2009. It is remarkable against this background how little effect these incidents had on legislation consultation in practice. In general, the conditions of the consultation activities currently show further constancy and reliability. However, it is not easily possible to carry out independent consultation in sensitive legal areas without attempts being made on the part of the policy-makers to exert influence. This is why the cooperation partners and the contents of the consultation have to be selected after a precise, prudent analysis.
On the other hand, it is increasingly revealed in Georgia that the competition between national influences in legislation consultation can lead to contradictions in the legal system. This can be seen for instance if one takes the example of criminal procedure law. The continental European system served as a model at the beginning of the reform process in Georgia in most legal fields. For instance, substantive and procedural criminal law were closely orientated along the lines of the corresponding German statutes. In recent years, however, the influence of the Anglo-American advisors, and therefore the interest of Georgian policy-makers in their legal system, has increased. For instance, a reformed Georgian Criminal Procedure Act came into force in October 2010 which contains fundamental elements of the Anglo-American criminal law system. This reform has led, firstly, to contradictions between substantive and procedural law, and secondly, neither judges in criminal courts nor defence counsels were adequately prepared for the new challenges. In the view of many parties concerned in the proceedings, and of advisors on the ground, there is a need for correction or at least for more training.
Cooperation to date - Strategy
It has been possible to considerably expand cooperation with Georgia in recent years, and this is of central significance for the presence of the IRZ Foundation in the Southern Caucasus region. This is closely related to the successful positioning of the IRZ Foundation alongside the many international consultation organisations operating in Georgia. The focus on specific topical areas (prison system, criminal law, methodology and implementation of international agreements), in close coordination with organisations already operating in the country, was decisive for this. The IRZ Foundation has now become established with its expertise in these fields, so that new partners are continually being added to the proven cooperation partners from the Ministries and the judiciary.
The content-related focus in 2011 also lay on the prison system, which is in need of reform, and where only continuous consultation, further training and support for the competent institutions can lead to success in the long term. Much energy is taken up and continues to be taken up by the promotion of methodical working methods since methodical shortcomings are a frequent obstacle for the correct application of the law. In this respect, this topic is also to be pursued, both in the context of legal training and in legal practice, for instance by judges in criminal courts of first instance.
Major partners of the IRZ are currently the Georgian Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance, and above all the Penitentiary and Probation Training Centre which is subordinate to it. Cooperation with the Constitutional Court, as well as with the Supreme Court, also remains central. There is also ad hoc cooperation with various courts both in Tbilisi and outside the capital. Cooperation with the Georgian Lawyers Association is currently the focus at the level of the professional associations, contact also continuing with the Bar. In the specific field of the training of lawyers, cooperation has proven positive with the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), which as a non-governmental player has also gained a good reputation with regard to the promotion of professionalism among lawyers and contributes through its overall activities towards creating a more positive public perception of the legal profession. Good contact furthermore exists with the relevant Law Faculties of the Georgian Universities, specifically with the State University of Tbilisi.
Foci of activity in 2011
Rule of law / justice
- Consultation of the Ministry of Justice and of Tbilisi City Court and fact-finding trip to Brandenburg on the introduction of a modern, effective court management
- Specialist talks with the German Bar Association and the German Lawyers’ Academy on basic and further training of lawyers, organisation of professional associations and further training institutes
Human rights and their enforceability
- Three seminars on the content of the ECHR and its implementation in legal practice, which were jointly organised by Georgian and German experts together with the Georgian Lawyers Association
Criminal law and criminal procedure
- Specialist talks between representatives of the Supreme Court of Georgia and judges of the Federal Court of Justice, Federal Constitutional Court, Karlsruhe Regional Court et al.
- International symposium on the state of the reform of the Georgian criminal law relating to juvenile offenders in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg
- Fact-finding trips by German judges at first instance to Georgian criminal courts of first instance to prepare methodology training in cooperation with the Supreme Court
- Pilot project for the introduction of four-month fundamental training of future prison staff: Successful implementation of the first training course
- Consultation on the introduction of prison workshops
- Joint training of trainers for Armenian and Georgian trainers of the penitentiary system in Signagi, Georgia
Basic and further training
- Development of legal teaching methodology for universities in Georgia: drafting of examination schemes by Georgian working groups
- National Moot Court in constitutional law for law students in cooperation with the Constitutional Court and GYLA in Batumi
- Drafting of a Georgian legal dictionary together with the GIZ Office in Tbilisi
On the occasion of the twenty year celebrations of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Germany, a multilateral conference provides the opportunity to take stock of developments in criminal law and in criminal procedure in the countries of the Southern Caucasus. This conference will take place in Tbilisi in May 2012 and be organised in cooperation with the MPI Freiburg. In the topics related to the prison system, close cooperation with a new partner, namely the National Probation Service Agency, is planned with the aim of establishing open prisons in Georgia.
Relevant progress is additionally expected in the context of the methodology project on the reform of legal training at Georgia’s law faculties. This project, in which the major Georgian law faculties, GYLA and the Specialist Law Department at the University of Bonn are involved, is intended to provide a fundamental methodical framework for judicial methodology. Early, successful implementation of this project would constitute major progress in legal training in Georgia.