Mentoring System in the Georgian Penitentiary System

A 10-strong Georgian study group was invited by the experts to visit the Bildungsinstitut des niedersächsischen Strafvollzugs as well as prisons in Wolfenbüttel and Sehnde in July 2013

A 10-strong Georgian study group was invited by the experts to visit the Bildungsinstitut des niedersächsischen Strafvollzugs as well as prisons in Wolfenbüttel and Sehnde in July 2013

The penitentiary system is a particularly sensitive issue in every country. Georgia in particular has had massive problems in this connection in the past. Therefore, the Government has initiated major reforms to enhance prison conditions and to lay the basis for independent mentoring, internal official supervision and prisoners' rights to complain.

In June 2013, a comprehensive project was kicked off at the initiative of the Georgian Penitentiary and Probation Training Centre (PPTC) supervised by the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Aid in cooperation with the IRZ, with the aim of introducing a mentoring system into the Georgian penitentiary system. Two IRZ experts were involved from the German side, namely Dr Jürgen Herzog, Director of the Justizvollzugsschule Hamburg (ret.) (prison staff training centre) as well as Günter Schroven, Director of the Bildungsinstitut für Justizvollzug (penitentiary training institute) in Lower Saxony. A 10-strong Georgian study group was invited by the experts to visit the Bildungsinstitut des niedersächsischen Strafvollzugs as well as prisons in Wolfenbüttel and Sehnde in July 2013. Mentoring and training concepts as well as the necessary framework were subsequently developed, adapted to the Georgian penitentiary system and presented at a follow-up event in Sighnaghi. A programme tailored to the introduction of the mentoring and the selection and training of mentors was set up and adopted on this basis under the management of the two IRZ experts. Then, in early May 2014, Dr Herzog trained 20 mentors in Rustavi at the PPTC training centre at a five-day training course. This pilot training scheme informed the prospective trainees about the relevant legal basis, international standards as well as organisational, educational and psychological elements. The training furthermore covered issues of communication, cooperation, conflict resolution as well as handing on experience. As of now, the mentors not only convey knowledge, values and experience but also act as a link to the PPTC. The intention is that they will guarantee uniform standards across Georgian penitentiary institutions.

The system was officially introduced on 6 May 2014 at an international final conference organised by the IRZ, held directly after this training, where it was presented to the Georgian authorities involved, the interested public and international organisations. The Deputy Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Ekaterine Kristesashvili, Dr Herzog as well as the Director of the PPTC, Maia Khasia, gave an account of their findings with regard to successful cooperation, the development process and the implementation of the mentoring programme. All parties pointed out the great importance of the cooperation between the PPTC and the IRZ for the development of the Georgian penitentiary system. One issue which was particularly emphasised was the strong commitment of the Georgian representatives, without which it would not have been possible to achieve such a positive result within such a short time.

The conference is a milestone in the efforts made by Georgian institutions towards enhancing their penal system. The first mentor-assisted training course for penitentiary staff can now start in June 2014. The IRZ will support the PPTC with the further implementation and provide guidance in dealing with any difficulties that could arise in the implementation process.

Legal Research Methodology for Georgia – Training of Trainers in Tbilisi

The participants of the training week  The participants of the training week

The participants of the training week

Major premise, definition, subsumption, result – the application of this structure and writing style of a legal opinion has been expected for decades from every German law student in the exam papers as of the first semester. The universities in Georgia do not prescribe a uniform methodology of solving legal cases, and so this is also unknown territory for most practitioners. Georgia's young case law in civil, criminal and administrative law is geared to the German law system which is characterised by a broad scientific discussion and historically grown interpretation methods in Germany. In Georgia, both is about to evolve.

As early as from 2011 on, Georgian and German law experts from science and practice have been working on a research methodology for Georgia in cooperation with the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), GIZ in Tbilisi und IRZ, and have compiled their results in a hand-out for each field of law. This groundwork was used as the basis for organising a training week in Tbilisi from 8 to 12 September 2013. There, life was breathed into the fundamentals of case-solving technique drafted in theory.

From the German side, the two trainers Dr. Rainer Deville, judge at the Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf, and Mr. Stefan Koroch, member of the research staff at the University of Bonn, assisted the Georgian participants in civil law with support and case studies. The parallel training sessions covering administrative law and criminal law were chaired by Mr. Gerrit Hellmuth Stumpf, another member of the research staff at the University of Bonn, and Dr. Martin Piazena, programme coordinator and lecturer at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.

The training sessions scheduled as a pilot project were attended by up to five Georgian professors and judges each, who have made the project a full success with their outstanding commitment and interest in the case-solving methodology. They were tirelessly delving into the solutions in accordance with the Georgian law in small groups – always applying the scheme of the case-solving methodology, assisted by the German experts. In this process, the joint interest not only in internalising the structure and writing style of a legal opinion themselves but also in learning from the trainers' experience gained in imparting the methodology to the students was obvious, with case solutions being simulated and various kinds of marking exam papers being discussed.

The application of the structure and writing style of a legal opinion is still far from being compulsory in the syllabi of the Georgian universities. Due to the huge interest of the Georgian lecturers in this training, it can be expected, however, that a group is evolving which is convinced of this doctrine and wishes to pass it on to the next generation. Therefore there are many reasons to believe that the project has proved a success and should be continued. As the German law experts know best, the structure and writing style of a legal opinion can only become a matter of course by constant repetition also in Georgia.

Visit of Dr. Grundmann in Georgia

Dr. Grundmann in Georgien

Dr. Birgit Grundmann in Tbilisi, June 2013

From 18 to 20 June 2013, the State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Dr. Birgit Grundmann, visited Georgia from 18 to 20 June 2013. There she met representatives from politics, the judiciary and civil society, jointly with IRZ representatives.

The State Secretary had meetings with the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Alexander Baramidze, her Georgian counterpart, with whom she discussed a renewal of the cooperation agreement between the two ministries concluded in 2006. During a meeting with the Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Mr Sozar Subari, Dr. Grundmann obtained an overview of the reforms in the penitentiary system and in particular about the structural and personal reappraisal of the torture scandal which had caused great dismay beyond Georgia's boundaries in the run-up to the Georgian Parliamentary elections in September 2012. This also set the background for the meeting with the Georgian Chief Public Prosecutor, Mr Archil Kbilashvili, whose authority has been engaged in the investigations against members of the Georgian penitentiary system since the end of last year, with support from the IRZ. In a meeting with representatives of the Georgian Parliament, Dr. Grundmann was able to gain an impression of the political climate in Georgia. At the German Embassy she met the Deputy Head of Parliament, Ms Manana Kobakhidze, as well as the Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Mr Vakhtang Khmaladze. Both dialogue partners highlighted the particular importance of upholding human rights in Georgia. Fundamental issues such as the independence of the judiciary, which is currently the subject of heated debates in Georgia, play a great role in this context. Meetings took also place with the President of the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Deputy President of the Georgian Constitutional Court, representatives of the Georgian Chamber of Lawyers, the Bar Association and scientific academia. Since there are still many Georgians who learn German and go to Germany on study and field trips, it was often even possible to exchange opinions without the assistance of an interpreter.

Since the change of government in Georgia in October 2012, a new dynamism has evolved in the Caucasian state towards the implementation of legal reforms and intensifying support in the rule of law. The Georgian Minister of Justice, Ms Tea Tsulukiani, in particular, assumed her office expressing her commitment to fundamental reforms. With her visit, Dr. Grundmann emphasised Germany's interest in these developments and reaffirmed the willingness of the Federal Ministry of Justice, as well as of the IRZ as its implementing organisation, to provide support.