Georgia - annual report 2016

Specialist discussions in Tbilisi between the Georgian Supreme Court and the Bremen Higher Regional Court: Karen Buse, President of the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Bremen; Prof. Dr. Nino Gvenetadze (right), President of the Georgian Supreme Court

Specialist discussions in Tbilisi between the Georgian Supreme Court and the Bremen Higher Regional Court: Karen Buse, President of the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Bremen; Prof. Dr. Nino Gvenetadze (right), President of the Georgian Supreme Court

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Parliamentary elections took place in Georgia on 8 October 2016. The pro-west government party “Georgian Dream” was reconfirmed in office with 50 % of the votes cast. The opposition party “United National Movement” achieved just 26 % of the votes and is the second strongest party in the Georgian Parliament. The new government, which in part represents a continuation of the old government, was constituted in November. The Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, also remains in office.

Georgia remains on a course of consistent reform and has for several years rightly been considered as one of the most progressive countries within the Eastern Partnership with regard to democratic structures, political stability and pluralism. The country plans to consistently pursue this reform policy. In the field of justice, the government’s aims continue to include the reformation of the legal and the judicial system, compliance with European standards in national law and the strengthening of an independent judiciary.

Overall Concept

The IRZ works in Georgia on the basis of a Joint Declaration between the German Federal Ministry of Justice and the Georgian Ministry of Justice. In this context, criminal law and the implementation of international agreements into national law have been defined as the most important topics. Most of the activities currently take place in the criminal law field. In addition to consultation on individual amendment projects for the relevant legislation, most recently on the Code of Criminal Procedure, the IRZ devotes itself to the improvement of case-law in criminal proceedings, investigative activities of the Georgian Public Prosecutor’s Office in conformity with human rights and proper representation by criminal defence lawyers. This aim is served by cooperation with judges at various Georgian courts who are intended to develop a close network with German courts. Similarly, Georgian lawyers are reached through further training and specialist conferences. The Georgian side considers practice-oriented specialist exchanges with German colleagues very important.

Last but not least, the IRZ also promotes the exchange between Georgian and German academics on the further development of criminal law and the further assimilation of Georgian to European standards.

Foci of Activity 2016

Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Three further training events in Tbilisi for Georgian lawyers on the application of the European Convention on Human Rights and European law
  • National moot court in Batumi on constitutional law for Georgian law students

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Lecture and discussion event in Tbilisi entitled “Immoral business and extortion – statutory regulation and case-law” within the framework of the initiative “Law - Made in Germany” in cooperation with the Georgian Bar and the German Federal Bar
  • Specialist conference in Tbilisi for the Georgian Bar on civil procedure issues, including accelerated proceedings and data protection

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Visit by a delegation of the High Council of Justice of Georgia to the German Federal Supreme Court and the Bremen Higher Regional Court
  • Specialist discussions in Tbilisi between the Georgian Supreme Court and the Bremen Higher Regional Court as the start to a possible court partnership
  • Specialist discussions between the Hamburg Regional Court and the Appeal Court of Tbilisi on the issues “Importance and difficulties of indirect testimony (hearsay) in criminal procedure law” and “Usability in court of information obtained illegally” in the course of the cooperation of both courts
  • Preparation of a (standard form) handbook of criminal procedure for the judiciary in cooperation with the High Council of Justice of Georgia
    Study visit to Germany by representatives of the Georgian General Prosecutor’s Office, including the issues of juvenile criminal justice, basic and further training, communication/public relations work and the judgment system
  • Roundtable discussions for representatives of the judiciary, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the media on the subject “Investigations against holders of office” in cooperation with the Justice Ministry Training Centre
  • Academic conference in Tbilisi on the Europeanisation of Georgian commercial criminal law in cooperation with the University of Georgia
  • Project to investigate Georgian criminal justice, in particular decision-making practice, from 2005 to 2016 in cooperation with the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
  • 13-day further training course for a total of 50 criminal justice staff on the treatment of prisoners (international standards, hunger strikes, use of compulsion, etc.)
  • Online specialist publication “German-Georgian Criminal Law Journal” (www.dgstz.de): publication of academic articles, conference reports and case-law

Basic and Further Training

  • Participation by two Georgian law students at the IRZ “German law” summer school in Brühl and Bonn
  • Participation by two winners of the Moot Court 2015 at the Bonn International Model United Nations Conference in Germany

EU Projects

Outlook

In 2017, the projects will mainly follow up on the work to date. For example, the aim is to complete the handbook of criminal procedure for the judiciary mentioned above, a measure designed to improve the quality of first-instance criminal judgments. Closer support for reforms in the correctional system is intended, if possible. This sphere remains subject to significant changes. The competent Ministry of Correction, the Training Centre PPTC belonging to it, and the Probation Agency have requested further support, for example in the sphere of women’s and juvenile prisons. In addition, the continued tenure of the Minister of Justice beyond 2016 offers the opportunity to further develop the existing cooperation with the Ministry.

Download the entire IRZ annual report in PDF format here: annual report 2016.

Georgia - annual report 2015

Länderbericht Georgien 2015During the conference on the topic of “Criminal procedure in Georgia – challenges on the path towards approximation to the EU” in Tbilisi

Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

The integration of Georgia into Euroatlantic structures, as well as sustainable democratic development, are among the country's priority goals. Georgia is making efforts to conform to the standards of the Council of Europe in legal reform and in respect for human and minority rights. The country can already report considerable successes in many areas when it comes to reforms, including in the fight against corruption, as well as in the reform of the police and the judiciary. When it comes to judicial reforms, it is particularly a matter of ensuring the independence of the judges, modernising the court system and the law enforcement authorities and strengthening the rights of victims. The Government's further goals include expanding local self-government.

A major success on the path towards the approximation of Georgia to the EU was the signing of an Association Agreement in June 2014. The Agreement will however not finally come into force until it has been ratified by all Member States. Germany signed the Agreement with Georgia in 2015.

Overall concept

The IRZ works with governmental and non-governmental institutions in the country on the basis of a joint declaration between the Georgian and German Ministries of Justice, which was updated in December 2014 by a new working programme which is valid until 2017. The measures on further training and consultation on legislation that were agreed on in this programme are to strengthen the Georgian judiciary, and hence bring about greater stability, enhance the rule of law and increase respect for human rights. In thematical terms, this continues to be about criminal and criminal procedure law, the penitentiary system and human rights, as well as the implementation of international agreements in Georgia.

Cooperation with professional associations, particularly with the Georgian Bar, is progressing efficiently. An exchange of experience has been taking place for many years with the Federal Bar (BRAK), with support from the IRZ. In this framework, representatives of the Georgian Bar obtained information in 2015 on quality management in Berlin. Furthermore, the IRZ held a roundtable discussion on the regional exchange of experience with the Bars in Armenia and Georgia in Tbilisi this year, as well as a conference specifically for criminal defence counsel.

The projects are also being successfully continued with regard to improving legal training. Given the particular similarity of the Georgian legal system to the German legal tradition and the large number of particularly young lawyers with experience of studying or working in Germany, there is a considerable amount of interest in the German case-orientated teaching and work methodology. This is imparted within a variety of projects.

Foci of activity in 2015

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

  • Working visit by a delegation of Georgian constitutional court judges, including to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, to the Constitutional Court of Rhineland-Palatinate and to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
  • Attendance by the two winners of the national Moot Court at a seminar on constitutional law in Berlin
  • National Moot Court in Batumi on constitutional law for Georgian law students

Civil and commercial law

  • Implementation of the EU project entitled "Facility for the Implementation of the Association Agreement in Georgia" (EU service contract) since July 2015 (Further information p.)

Administration of justice

  • Support for the anniversary edition of the Georgian Lawyers Gazette
  • Further training and advice on European law for staff of the Georgian Ministry of Justice
  • Roundtable discussion on the regional exchange of experience with the Bars in Armenia and Georgia in Tbilisi
  • Conference on the topic of "The role and rights of criminal defence counsel in criminal proceedings" in Tbilisi
  • Specialist discussions on the topics of electronic legal services and electronic case allocation plan at the Tbilisi Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Workshop in Berlin on the topic of "Safeguarding the quality of legal services through specialisation, further training and office management"
  • Implementation of the EU project entitled "Legislative impact assessment, drafting and representation" (EU service contract) since April 2015 (further information p.)

Penitentiary law

  • Visit by judges of Hamburg Regional Court to the Appeal Court of Tbilisi and return visit by the Georgian colleagues from Tbilisi to Hamburg Regional Court
  • Conference on the introduction of the Juvenile Justice Code at the State University of Tbilisi
  • Study visit by Georgian mentors to the penitentiary system in Lower Saxony
  • Advice to the Centre for Crime Prevention on the topics of risk management and risk-orientated social work
  • Consultation of the Supreme Court of Georgia on the reform of criminal procedure law
  • Support for the publication of the "German-Georgian Criminal Law Journal (DGStZ)"
  • Training courses in juvenile justice for attorneys
  • Conference on the topic of "Criminal proceedings in Georgia – challenges on the path towards approximation to the EU"
  • Conclusion of the EU project entitled "Support to criminal justice reforms in Georgia" (further information p.)

Basic and further training

  • Training of trainers on the application of legal methodology in the university education of Georgian law students
  • Attendance by two Georgian law students at the IRZ "German law" summer school in Brühl and Bonn

Outlook

The implementation of the working programme of the respective Ministries of Justice will take priority in 2016. This entails, firstly, further support for the European law Directorate-General of the Georgian Ministry of Justice, as well as of the Centre for Crime Prevention. Secondly, a focus will be placed on further training courses concerning the implementation of the newly-introduced Juvenile Justice Code since the EU project previously dealing with it was concluded in 2015 and the IRZ is able to provide continuity in this area.

The cooperation with the Georgian Bar, the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Tbilisi Court of Appeal will naturally be continued. There are furthermore specific plans for projects to benefit the ChiefProsecutor's Office, the Ministry of Corrections and the Penitentiary and Probation Training Centre, which is subordinate to it. The IRZ has implemented a large number of measures with these institutions in the past, from which it will borrow.

An electronic German-Georgian criminal law portal will go online in 2016 in order to provide a sustainable platform for the academic debate on criminal law-related topics. This online journal will provide free access to academic articles, reviews of judgments and conference reports by Georgian and German authors to a broad audience.

Georgia - annual report 2013

Länderbericht Georgien 2013International conference on judicial independence in cooperation with GIZ, the Supreme Court and other organisations in Tbilisi

General - Conceptual orientation

Georgia's domestic policy was also marked by notable changes this year. Despite the tense relationships between the government and opposition parties after the peaceful parliamentary elections in October 2012, the one-year cohabitation did not lead to a political blockade. In fact, it was possible to initiate some important reforms. Cohabitation ended after the presidential elections at the end of October 2013. Since then, Gregori Margvelashvili has been the new Head of State of Georgia. This further strengthened the role of the "Georgian Dream" alliance of parties, which had already won the parliamentary elections in 2012. The free, fair, peaceful elections and the ensuing transition of power were a further notable step towards entrenching democracy in Georgia. Because of an amendment to the constitution in 2012, the Head of the Government Iraqli Garibashvili, who has been in office since November 2013, now exercises the central functions in the State. His government is continuing the course that Georgia has set towards EU and NATO accession. Through a cross-party resolution on foreign policy of March 2013, the country has confirmed a Euroatlantic course and is not looking to join regional organisations such as the CIS and the Eurasian Union, the members of which do not recognise Georgia's territorial integrity. The first step towards the EU was taken in Vilnius at the end of November 2013 when the country initialled the Association Agreement with the EU; the final signing of the agreement is to take place by August 2014. However, the relationship with the Russian Federation is also to be normalised. A first step towards approchement took place in the first half of 2013, when Russia rescinded the embargo on wine, mineral water and various agricultural products from Georgia which had been imposed in 2006, and at least the economic relations between the two states were re-launched. In terms of domestic politics, the Government continues to intensively strive to strengthen democratic institutions and to carry out many urgent legal reforms. Additionally, local elections are to be held in 2014.

Cooperation to date

The IRZ has been working since 2006 with governmental and non-governmental institutions in the country on the basis of an agreement between the Georgian and German Ministries of Justice. The activity focuses on the support of legal practitioners, primarily in criminal law, by means of further training and through strengthening professional associations. Once more, the most important fields of activity in 2013 were the prison system, strengthening the legal profession and the judiciary, support for the Office of the Public Prosecutor General, as well as improving judicial training. The cooperation between the IRZ and its main partners, i.e. the Ministry of Justice, the Prison Ministry and the Office of the Public Prosecutor General, took place in an extremely open and constructive atmosphere. Among other things because of its geographical location, Georgia is also a suitable place for multilateral events. For instance in February 2013, an important conference took place for member states of the Hague Conference at which a discussion was held on the implementation of Hague Conventions. Roughly fifty participants from more than ten states in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as well as Turkey, met in Tbilisi at the invitation of the IRZ, of the Georgian Ministry of Justice and of the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference.

Major partners

  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Corrections and Penitentiary and Probation Training Centre (PPTC), which is affiliated with it
  • Office of the Public Prosecutor General
  • Constitutional Court
  • Bar of Georgia (Georgian Bar Association) and Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession (GLIP)
  • Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA)
  • Law Faculty of the Tbilisi State University (TSU)

Strategy and method

The IRZ benefits in Georgia from the extraordinarily good, long-lasting relations between Georgian and German jurisprudence and legal practitioners, as well as from the considerable interest expressed in German expertise by the partners there. This is particularly fruitful. What is more, the legal policy framework has recently undergone considerable improvement. It has been understood in recent years that many fields of criminal law in Georgia urgently require liberalisation and reform. The stage was set for this by the change of government and thanks to the current general spirit of change in the country, since many central contacts, for instance in the Ministry of Justice, now also share this opinion. It was thus possible to tackle several fundamental questions and reform projects at conferences and further training seminars that were held in the country, as well as in specialist discussions in Germany, and in some cases these were discussed before a broad public. This controversial public debate between and also within professional groups, for instance judges, on fundamental reforms causes a major echo. For instance, the IRZ can enrich the domestic debate by providing an outside perspective.

Foci of activity in 2013

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

  • Three seminars for Georgian lawyers on the application and enforcement of the European Convention on Human Rights in legal practice, planned and led by German and Georgian speakers together with the Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession (GLIP) in Tbilisi, Georgia
  • National Moot Court in constitutional law for Georgian law students, final round with the involvement of a German judge as a jury member in cooperation with the Constitutional Court and GYLA in Batumi, Georgia

Civil and commercial law

  • International conference on the topic of "Fostering cooperation through Hague Conventions" in cooperation with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law in Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Secondment of a professor from the Law Faculty of the TSU to speak at the conference "The Moldovan Civil Code: 10 years after its introduction – successes, reserves and prospects" in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

Administration of justice

  • Specialist visit by State Secretary Dr. Birgit Grundmann to the Georgian Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court and other partners in the Georgian judiciary in Tbilisi and Batumi, Georgia • Participation by the Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Georgian Parliament at the III International Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs on the topic of "The path to legislation – The role and influence of the institutions involved" in Berlin
  • Conference on topical questions concerning the judicial independence of Georgian judges in cooperation with GIZ and others in Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Specialist visit by the Chair of the Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession (GLIP) to the German Bar Association (DAV) and to the German Institution of Arbitration (DIS) in Berlin on the topics of the organisation of law firms, lawyers' liability, public relations and press work and professional lobbying for the legal profession, arbitration procedure

Public law

Visit by a delegation of the Georgian Prison Ministry to Waldheim Prison,Saxony

  • Seminar on state law for German and Georgian students in cooperation with the Humboldt University in Berlin and the TSU in Tbilisi, Georgia Criminal law and the law on the prison system
  • International conference on the topic of "Liberalisation aspects of criminal legislation in Georgia" together with TSU in Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Support for the Georgian Office of the Public Prosecutor General in dealing with systematic crime in Georgian detention centres and in the military
  • Specialist discussions with a German public prosecutor in Tbilisi on the approach to dealing with crime, dealing with a large number of sets of proceedings, prosecuting responsible decision-makers; study visit to Berlin and Karlsruhe by a delegation from the Office of the Public Prosecutor General on the investigation work carried out by German public prosecution offices (amongst other things on the topics of tasks, powers, press work) in cooperation with the Berlin Office of the Public Prosecutor General, the Federal Public Prosecution Office and the Federal Ministry of Justice
  • Study visit by a delegation from the Prison Ministry to prisons in Saxony in cooperation with the Saxon State Ministry of Justice and for Europe: exchange on the topics of security, therapies, opportunities for work
  • Drawing up of a mentoring programme for the Georgian prison system with the PPTC in cooperation with the Lower Saxony prison training institute: study visit by the working party to Wolfenbüttel, drawing up of the concept, joint workshop in Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Further training for managers in the Georgian prison system (conflict management, personnel management, complaints management) together with the PPTC in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia
  • Armenian-Georgian train-the-trainer course for trainers in the prison system in cooperation with PPTC and the Armenian Law Institute in Zarkadzhor, Armenia
  • Continuation of the EU project "Support to the Reform of the Criminal Justice System in Georgia", which has been running since December 2012, as a consortium partner; intensive consultation and training events particularly benefiting the Ministry of Corrections 
  • Support of criminal law publications

Basic and further training

  • Continuation of the project on the methods of solving cases for judicial training in Georgia (presentation of the methods to the Ministries of Justice and of Education in the context of a roundtable discussion, train-the-trainer activities for the implementation of pilot projects, pilot application of the methods at various Law Faculties) in cooperation with GYLA and GIZ in Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Participation by two Georgian law students in the IRZ's "German law" summer school in Brühl

Outlook

The IRZ attaches primary importance to supporting the Georgian Ministry of Justice in 2014. The memorandum between the Ministries from 2006 is to be updated in 2014 in the shape of a new activity plan. In addition to the notary system, the implementation of juvenile justice was identified as a topic for this. Against the background of the immanent signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, it is likely that this will only be the first step among many legal harmonisation projects for which the IRZ will be offering its support. Given the large number of enquiries, cooperation will also be expanded to include new partners. For instance, cooperation is to be established between the Appeal Court of Tbilisi and a German appeal court in order to facilitate a long-term exchange of experience on criminal law problems in judicial practice. Support for the Georgian legal profession through their professional associations: The Bar and the Bar Association will continue to remain a focus of the activities. In particular the Bar, the board of which was re-elected in December 2013, is interested in continuing the exchange with the Federal Bar as its German counterpart. Together with the German Federal Bar, the IRZ is therefore planning a conference for lawyers in Tbilisi in which both institutions will be involved. The technical exchange with the Constitutional Court is also to be intensified in the shape of specialist discussions and a regional expert conference. Consultation is currently taking place on further prison system reforms, primarily within the framework of the abovementioned EU project, so that bilateral activities are only planned to take place on a small scale here.