Expert discussions between the Supreme Court of Georgia and the higher regional court of Bremen on the subject of criminal law

On 13 and 14 June 2016, the first contact was made between the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Hanseatic higher regional court of Bremen. The two parties met for expert discussions between the presidents of the two courts and other judges from Georgia and Germany to discuss matters of criminal law.

The President of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Prof. Nino Gvenetadze, welcomed the President of the Hanseatic higher regional court, Karen Buse, who was accompanied by Dr. Stephan Haberland, a judge at the higher regional court of Bremen, and Ellen Best, Vice-President of the local court of Bremen. The focus of the two-day talks was on the further development of the law through the jurisdiction of the supreme court and the implementation of the youth penal code, which came into force in Georgia at the beginning of 2016. This law involved a number of key changes to the penal code for young people and adolescents and, from now on, other material criminal stipulations also apply to this group of people. The Supreme Court of Georgia, which is the highest ordinary court in the country, is already handling some cases that are subject to the new law. The exchange of experiences with the German delegation was very valuable in this context. The further development of the law through case law was also the subject of lively discussion, since this has not yet been fully established in Georgia in the field of criminal law and is above all perceived with great scepticism by the general public.

Some of the talks were held in the municipal court of Tbilisi, where the President welcomed the delegation and informed them of the current state of progress on another topic, which is currently of great importance to the Georgian justice system: the electronic allocation of responsibilities at courts. The municipal court of Tbilisi is already working with a pilot system and by the end of 2016, the allocation of responsibilities should take place electronically all over Georgia. Since the higher regional court of Bremen was one of the first regional court districts to introduce the electronic allocation of responsibilities, the delegation was able to draw on first-hand experience to address this kind of reform and the many practical questions that accompany it.

The expert discussions were considered by both sides to be very enriching and cooperative and are likely to be continued in Germany before the end of this year.

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.