The IRZ acilitated expert talks between representatives of the Appeal Court of Tbilisi and the Regional Court of Hamburg for the second time in six months. The Georgian side visited their German counterparts in Hamburg from 28 June to 2 July 2015.

This visit was a follow-up to the meeting between Georgian and German judges which took place at the Appeal Court of Tbilisi in February this year. The Appeal Court of Tbilisi kicked off the project in 2014 with support from the IRZ, with the aim of establishing cooperation between the two courts in the areas of criminal law and young offender law.

The Appeal Court of Tbilisi was represented by its President Valeri Tsertsvadze, a member of the High Judicial Council and three other criminal court judges. During these four days in Hamburg the Appeal Court delegation obtained in-depth information about procedural processes and practical procedures in criminal law and young offender law in both trial courts and appeal courts.

These topics were covered by 13 judges of the Regional Court of Hamburg in high-calibre presentations, among them several representatives of its presidency, followed by lively discussions between Georgian and German colleagues. The talks dealt with, among other things, the working methods and position of German judges in criminal proceedings, court administration, sentencing as well as possible sanctions and alternative punishments. In addition, the Georgian guests were able to take part in two trials and discuss the cases before and after the hearing with the presiding judges.

Another item on the Georgian delegation's programme was a visit to the prison and young offenders' institution at Hahnöfersand. This intense programme was organised by the Regional Court of Hamburg and was implemented with outstanding personal commitment by the President of the Court, Sibylle Umlauf, and the judges involved.

The days spent together in Hamburg confirmed the conviction of all parties involved that this exchange of experiences between the two courts is exceptionally interesting and enriching for both sides. Despite or perhaps because of the rather different position of criminal judges in German and in Georgian criminal proceedings, there is a great need to exchange opinions about practical issues, and this is why some of the addressed topics could be discussed in further detail. Therefore, it has already been agreed to continue the cooperation next year, which the IRZ warmly welcomes.