Delegation from the Georgian chief prosecutor's office on a visit to Germany

Participants of the delegation in front of the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westfalia region.Participants of the delegation in front of the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westfalia region.

From 4 to 6 April 2016, a Georgian delegation led by the deputy chief prosecutor, Giorgi Gabitashvili, attended expert discussions in Düsseldorf and Cologne by invitation of the IRZ. This working visit took place as part of the long-standing cooperation between the IRZ and the Georgian chief prosecutor's office, which is undergoing a process of significant reform.

The delegation started its series of expert discussions in Düsseldorf, where the guests met with judges Dr. Michael Scholz and Dr. Mattias Nordmeyer and public prosecutor Christian Schoß. During the talks at the Ministry of Justice, the Georgian guests were given an overview of the system for assessing public prosecutors in Germany, which was of particular interest in view of the possible introduction of a similar assessment system in Georgia.

Afterwards, the delegation was welcomed to the State Office of Criminal Investigation for North Rhine-Westfalia by the head of criminal investigations, Thomas Jungbluth. The expert discussions focussed, amongst other things, on investigative procedures at the State Office of Criminal Investigation.

In Cologne, expert discussions were held with judges and public prosecutors at the office of the public prosecutor general and at the higher regional court, focussing on responsibilities and the way the court and the public prosecutor's office work and cooperate.

The programme was supplemented by a practice-oriented sharing of experiences with civil servants working for the German Office of Criminal Investigation, during which current issues concerning criminal law were debated. Various aspects of a potential cooperation between Georgia and Germany were discussed. Both institutions expressed the desire to continue and intensify their successful cooperation.

Conference on Criminal Procedure Law in Georgia

"The criminal procedure in Georgia – challenges on its path towards the approximation to the EU" – this was the title of an IRZ conference held in Tbilisi on 22 and 23 October 2015.

The conference was organised in cooperation with the Supreme Court of Georgia. It was attended by representatives of parliament, of the bodies of criminal justice of Georgia, by judges of the Supreme Court as well as by professors of various Georgian universities.

The event was opened by the President of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Professor Nino Gvenetadze. On the part of the German embassy in Georgia, Joachim Hecker, Head of the Divisions for Business as well as Legal and Consular Affairs, welcomed the participants.

The IRZ has been active for several years in the field of criminal justice in Georgia.

The current Georgian criminal procedure law contains some elements which need to be reformed. The purpose of this conference was to discuss these fields of problems with an expert audience and to drive further reforms. The following topics were discussed:

  • ECHR provisions for criminal proceedings,
  • safeguarding judicial independence,
  • rights of the defence counsel from a Georgian perspective as well as
  • structures of inquisitorial and adversarial criminal proceedings.

On the German part, Ellen Best, Vice-President of the Local Court of Bremen, Holger Pröbstel, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Erfurt, Professor Ingeborg Zerbes of the University of Bremen and Professor Thomas Weigend of the University of Cologne gave comparative presentations on criminal procedure law.

The presentations of the German and Georgian speakers gave rise to open and lively discussions, which showed that the judiciary still has to struggle with many procedural law regulations. The need for reforms, however, is assessed differently and has led to strong disagreement within the judiciary and the justice system in general. Bearing this in mind, it is doubtful whether adaptations of the code of criminal procedure can be expected in the near future. The IRZ will keep following the discussions about this issue and offer its consultation if required.

Tbilisi Appeal Court delegation visits Regional Court of Hamburg

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.