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 A first step towards approchement took place in the first half of 2013, when Russia rescinded the embargo on wine, mineral water and various agricultural products from Georgia which had been imposed in 2006, and at least the economic relations between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


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.