Online seminar on implementing the Hague Abduction Convention

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Georgia

On 16 and 17 July 2020, IRZ and the Georgian Ministry of Justice organised an online seminar on the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and, as an aside, on the Hague Convention of 19 October 1996 on the Protection of Children. Georgia acceded to the Hague Abduction Convention in 1998 and to the Convention on the Protection of Children in 2015. Since then, the country has made numerous efforts to implement both conventions.

The objective of the two-day seminar was to introduce the Georgian participants to the work of the German Federal Office of Justice as a central authority in connection with the Hague conventions and to provide insights into the German repatriation process in accordance with the Hague Abduction Convention. The IRZ experts taking part in the seminar were:

  • Martina Erb-Klünemann, a judge at the Local Court of Hamm and a German liaison magistrate,
  • Ulrike Kluth, an expert at the German Federal Office of Justice, where she is responsible for international child custody, child abduction and the protection of children and adults, and
  • Christian Höhn, Head of the Department of international child custody, child abduction and the protection of children and adults at the German Federal Office of Justice.

As well as clarifying procedural issues, there were also detailed lectures on the use of mediation in repatriation processes in Germany. Judge Erb-Klünemann stressed in particular the importance of mediation in repatriation processes and encouraged the participants to develop further this extremely effective means of resolving conflicts. At the same time, she also emphasised the importance of cross-border cooperation between central authorities with liaison magistrates. Judge Erb-Klünemann expressed her regret that no liaison magistrate has yet been appointed in Georgia. She suggested to her Georgian colleagues that this should be achieved as soon as possible in order to make international cooperation in this area easier.

Since there was not enough time to deal with the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children in more detail, the experts provided the participants with plenty of material on this subject. The participants said that they were in favour of continuing to work closely together in this area. IRZ will be happy to fulfil this request and plans to organise another event on mediation in Hague Convention processes before the end of the year.

Panel Discussion concludes Media Law Project

Moderator Prof. Sergi Jorbenadze (on the left) with judges Prof. Maia Kopaleishvili, Ketevan Meskhishvili, Nino Bakakuri, and Tamar Oniani during the panel discussion
Moderator Prof. Sergi Jorbenadze (on the left) with judges Prof. Maia Kopaleishvili, Ketevan Meskhishvili, Nino Bakakuri, and Tamar Oniani during the panel discussion

On 18 December 2019, a panel discussion was held to sum up the results of the wide-ranging media law project (see below) in Georgia. The project was financed by the German Federal Foreign Office to support the “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia”.

The event began with a presentation of the main themes of the project to the audience of experts for discussion. Participating in the event were:

  • judges
  • legal experts
  • journalists and
  • representatives of non-governmental organisations.

The panel discussion was moderated by Prof. Sergi Jorbenadze and the panel was made up of four Georgian judges: Prof. Maia Kopaleishvili, a former judge at the Constitutional Court of Georgia, Ketevan Meskhishvili, a judge at the Court of Appeal, Nino Bakakuri, a judge at the Supreme Court, and Tamar Oniani, a judge at the Court of Appeal. They gave some impressive short lectures to share their knowledge and experience with the audience.

They covered the influence of disinformation and the difficulties in many cases to differentiate between disinformation and the right to freedom of speech. The conflict between freedom of expression and the protection of personal rights was also discussed. All the participants expressed the opinion that both issues required further, more in-depth discourse and discussion at national and international level. They explicitly expressed their support for a continuation of measures and exchange of experiences with German colleagues on subjects relating to media law.

Background of the project

Since the highly successful opening conference for the project, which was held on 2 November 2019 in Tbilisi, media representatives have taken part in four workshops on media law. These workshops were organised for media representatives by IRZ in cooperation with the Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani University. The media experts and media representatives addressed the following topics during the workshops:

  • social media
  • data protection
  • media and ethics
  • media and politics

Students following courses in law and journalism also took advantage of a four-day autumn academy on media law, during which German and Georgian experts presented an introduction to European and international media law. The following topics were discussed:

  • primary legislation relevant to the media
  • freedom of the media in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • EU secondary legislation in the media sector
  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • competition and antitrust laws
  • copyright law
  • media criminal law
The speakers took the current case law of the European Court of Justice and of the European Court of Human Rights into account in their explanations.

Conference in Tbilisi on state liability law

Conference on state liability law. On the panel: Judge Mzia Todua (centre), acting President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Oliver Aldea (on her left), a judge from the Regional Court of Kassel, and Frank Hupfeld (right), Head of Section at the IRZ
Conference on state liability law. On the panel: Judge Mzia Todua (centre), acting President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Oliver Aldea (on her left), a judge from the Regional Court of Kassel, and Frank Hupfeld (right), Head of Section at the IRZ
Georgia

On 29 November 2019, a conference was held on state liability law at the Supreme Court in Tbilisi. As well as the acting President of the Supreme Court, Mzia Todua, and the Georgian expert Prof. Paata Turava from the Tbilisi State University, judges and scientific staff from the Supreme Court in Georgia also attended this event. The expert appointed by the IRZ was Dr. Oliver Aldea, a judge at the Regional Court of Kassel.

As a result of the protests against planned voting reforms, state liability law is once again the subject of debate in Georgia. Demands for the Georgian state to take responsibility for dealing with demonstrators have increased, for example. In this context, Dr. Aldea started by explaining the legal situation concerning state liability law in Germany.

In Germany – as in Georgia – there is a clear and comprehensive distinction between private and administrative law claims and this separation, for historical reasons, can be difficult for outsiders to understand. However, German and Georgian cases were used to provide a clear presentation of the legal situation in Germany and, with reference to the lecture given by Prof. Turava, as a model to explain Georgian legal issues. The situation in Georgia is not clear either and the laws set out in the civil code and administrative code are contradictory in places.

The discussions that took place during the conference, which became passionate in places, revealed that a change to the Georgian law on state liability is required and that the legislator needs to ensure that legal regulations are clear. The IRZ will therefore address the subject of state liability law again next year whenever it is possible.