წლიური ანგარიშები eng

20 წელი ადამიანის უფლებებისთვის ბრძოლაში

News
CATEGORY - News
The attack on black students in the evening of April 8 in Dighmis Masivi is extremely alarming. Video of the event shows racist statements and motives of attackers. Together with recently identified other crimes motivated by intolerance, this incident indicates that the state should implement a consistent and systemic anti-discrimination policy.
Vide of the event shows that several black students were attacked, physically assaulted and verbally abused outside a sports field on Beliashvili Street. According to the students, violent actions perpetrated against them were motivated by their skin color. Attackers also demanded that they leave the country.
Reports that law enforcement officers responding the incident told the students to forget about what happened and failed to take any legal actions are especially alarming. We believe that official negligence by police officers is a crime provided in Art.342 of the Criminal Code of Georgia and it should be examined by the Office of the Prosecutor. Notably, during interviews young people from Asian and African countries often complain about indifference of law enforcement officers and their ineffective response, which is indicative of inadequate functioning of law enforcement systems with regard to protecting equality and the problem of discriminatory police culture.
According to the statement of the Interior Ministry, the investigation has been launched under Art.126 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (battery or other type of violence resulting in victim’s physical suffering). However, the investigation does not address the motive of intolerance on racial grounds, which the Criminal Code puts a particular emphasis on (Art.531 of the Code); it also views the motive of discrimination as an aggravating factor of crime.
We welcome the recent institutional reforms pursued by the Interior Ministry, including setting up the human rights department. However, in addition to long-term changes (inter alia, equipping police officers with adequate knowledge and sensitivity, conducting statistical and comprehensive analysis of discriminatory crimes, planning and implementing comprehensive preventive policy in partnership with other relevant ministries, creating the system of effective legal and social remedy for victims), the Ministry should also take adequate actions in response to crimes occurring in real time, ensure effective protection of victims and demonstrate principled political will in combating crimes motivated by discrimination.
People especially from African and Asian countries that live in Georgia often become victims of xenophobia and racial discrimination, including in public transport, public areas and while receiving services at banks or other commercial institutions. To eliminate such discriminatory social practices it is especially important to pursue a strict anti-discrimination policy in the system of education, designed to free the process of education and social environment in public schools from ethnocentric, racial and xenophobic content and encourage the culture of diversity and equality. Higher education institutions should also pursue effective anti-discrimination policy in their systems. In this process it is especially important that the government and political groups initiate positive discourse that supports equality.
In light of the foregoing we urge,
the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia:
  1. to take adequate and timely measures against the April 8 incident and impose suitable punishment on perpetrators. It is especially important that the racist motive of the crime is identified;
  2. to adequately examine official negligence of police officers and ensure that correct instructions on how to act when dealing with such incidents are provided to employees of relevant agencies;
  3. for effective prevention, investigation and protection of victims of hate crimes, to implement a comprehensive policy in a timely manner, designed to train police officers as well as to analyze systemic causes of such crimes and carry out comprehensive preventive activities;
the Office of the Prosecutor of Georgia:
1.to examine and respond to alleged official negligence by police officers.
the Government of Georgia:
  1. to ensure implementation of a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy in civil service as well as in the education system, which will entail, inter alia, comprehensive educational activities for elimination of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, ethnocentrism;
  2. to study the systemic causes of prejudice-motivated crimes and attitudes in society and ensure elimination of such crimes by employing comprehensive approaches.
Georgian Democratic Initiative (GDI)
Georgian Reforms Association (GRASS)
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
Media Development Fund (MDF)
Open Society – Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Sapari Union
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association
Equality Movement
Baltic Black Sea Alliance – Georgia
Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD)
Women’s Initiatives Support Group (WISG)
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
Article 42 of the Constitution
12.04.2018
CATEGORY - News

At the March 26 session of the High Council of Justice (HCOJ), judge-member Sergo Metopishvili announced that he plans to put forward an initiative for closing the HCOJ sessions to the public on the official agenda. We believe the judge-member’s initiative contradicts both the law and the principles of democratic governance. Such initiatives can only be damaging to the transparency of the HCOJ’s work, the possibility of voicing dissent at the HCOJ, and the reputation of the judiciary.

The High Council of Justice is a collegial body and falls under the regulations of Chapter 3 of the General Administrative Code. Specifically, according to the law, the HCOJ is obliged to conduct its sessions in an open and public manner. The HCOJ judge-member’s initiative on conducting sessions behind closed doors contradicts the legislation, the nature of collegial bodies, and the principle of openness.

The High Council of Justice must be accountable to the public. This is first and foremost served by the openness and publicity of the sessions. According to Opinion #10 of the Consultative Council of European Judges “transparency in the actions undertaken by [a Judicial] Council must be guaranteed. Transparency is an essential factor in the trust that citizens have in the functioning of the judicial system and is a guarantee against the danger of political influence or the perception of self-interest, self-protection and cronyism within the judiciary.”[1]

The existence of influential groups and their activities, which is one of the factors hindering the HCOJ’s independence, have been revealed precisely thanks to the sessions’ openness. Numerous legal gaps in the judiciary, significant problems in the work of the HCOJ, and the need for specific reforms have also been identified through observation of the open sessions of the HCOJ. Judge Sergo Metopishvili’s initiative can only serve the interest of hiding information regarding the fundamental problems and challenges in the work of the HCOJ and suppressing dissent inside the HCOJ.

Additionally, the HCOJ’s judge-member’s declared disrespect for the principle of openness and the wish for holding the sessions behind closed doors is damaging for the reputation of the judiciary. A judge, who should himself be the main defender of the right to public trial, is now voicing opposition to openness and publicity of the HCOJ’s work, thereby seriously undermining the authority and public trust of the judiciary.

We call on the High Council of Justice to adequately assess the damaging effects of Judge Sergo Metopishvili’s initiative on judicial independence, trust towards and reputation of the judiciary, and principles of democratic governance. We call on the HCOJ to publicly affirm its respect to the fundamental principles of law and preclude any encroachment on them.



[1] Opinion #10 of the Consultative Council of European Judges, para 91. https://rm.coe.int/168074779b

02.04.2018
CATEGORY - News

The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary is representing the interests of former Judge Maia Bakradze in a case against the High Council of Justice (HCOJ). The Coalition applied to the Court in an effort to establish discrimination by the HCOJ. The Coalition considers that the HCOJ treated Maia Bakradze differently because she was the chairperson of Unity of Judges and was known for her critical views of the court system.

Today, the lack of dissenting opinion and real discussion are one of the main challenges facing the judiciary and the High Council of Justice. Members of the judiciary refrain from publicly discussing the problems of the system and openly express contempt for the public’s criticism. Judges’ open expression of dissent and criticism is met with harsh reactions from the HCOJ. One vivid example is the refusal to appoint former judges to the bench because of their critical actions and opinions.

Maia Bakradze, the Chair of Unity of Judges, participated in two judicial selection competitions after completing her judicial term. Although she met all the criteria set by the legislation, the HCOJ decided not to reappoint her as a judge. The HCOJ’s interviews with her as a judicial candidate were not directed towards evaluating her by any set criteria, but rather towards revealing the candidate’s positions towards some publicly voiced critiques of the system.

Given the importance of this case for the Georgian justice system, the Public Defender of Georgia submitted an amicus brief to the City Court.

Tbilisi City Court did not rule in favor of Maia Bakradze. The decision of the court was not sufficiently substantiated legally. The substantiation is lacking to such a degree that reviewing its legal grounds is impossible.

Unfortunately, the first instance court failed to ensure that the case was heard objectively and without bias, an indication of the difficulty of bringing a case against the HCOJ. The court’s decision is not based on a comprehensive review and evaluation of all circumstances relevant to the case.

Given all of the above, the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary is appealing the Tbilisi City Court decision to the Tbilisi Court of Appeals.

21.03.2018
CATEGORY - News

Recent developments in the judiciary once again exposed the extent of the systemic problems in the judiciary. It is clear that the reforms implemented in the court system in recent years failed to achieve their main objective of having justice delivered by independent and impartial judges whose integrity and competence are not in doubt.

The main challenges remaining to date include:

· Insufficient political will for improving the judiciary

The three waves of judicial reforms implemented to date have not obtained their objective of improving the judiciary. The main reason for this is that the legislative changes were incomplete, belated, and often adapted to the interests of the influential group of judges. The ruling party is also responsible for appointing non-judge members to the High Council of Justice (HCOJ), the majority of whom failed to demonstrate sufficient integrity and without whose support the HCOJ could not have made its judicial appointments and other important decisions.

Today we are hearing outraged statements from some members of the parliamentary majority and ruling party regarding the lifelong appointment of judges. When almost half of Georgia’s judges are already appointed for life using opaque procedures, such reactions from the governing party are belated. It is clear that the government is trying to shift the blame for the situation in the judiciary.

· Clan-based governance of the judicial system

At all stages of judicial selection and appointment, we are left with the feeling that judicial appointments are based on the candidates’ loyalty to the influential group and probable nepotism.  There are valid concerns that the HCOJ is using its authority and legislative deficiencies to eradicate dissent from the system and to further strengthen its own positions. In this situation judges are reluctant to make critical statements regarding the problems inside the judiciary. The developments regarding Batumi City Court Judge Irakli Shavadze are proof of this. The judge’s statement indicates signs of a crime that should be investigated.

Today, court chairs are perceived as chiefs/superiors of other judges. This was further proven by the collective statement issued by judges of Batumi City Court. Judicial administrative positions are usually held by members of the same group, yielding special powers within the judiciary. The February 26 decision of the HCOJ is a proof of this. This decision appointed the HCOJ and influential group member Levan Tevzadze as the Chair of Criminal Chamber at the Tbilisi Court of Appeals, likely as a result of nepotism.

· Opaque and unsubstantiated judicial appointment decisions

Unfortunately, the current membership of the HCOJ is continuing with the established faulty practices of judicial appointment. On February 22, the HCOJ appointed 44 judges for life. Among them were judges towards whom the public has a very strong negative attitude due to their past high-profile decisions. The appointment process was for the most part held behind closed doors, and one non-judge member of the HCOJ, Anna Dolidze, was not allowed to participate in the selection and appointment process of 14 judges.

In this difficult situation, the Coalition believes it is necessary to critically revisit the steps made regarding the judiciary and to acknowledge the problems. For this purpose, the Coalition is starting its “Make Courts Trustworthy” campaign and demands that:

· the political leadership acknowledge its share of responsibility for the crisis in the judiciary;

· the judiciary be freed from clan governance;

· the Prosecutor’s Office take interest in and fully investigate all probable cases of crimes related to the judicial system;

· the Parliament implement real reforms, based on which the influential group within the judiciary can no longer abuse legislation for its illegitimate purposes.

Coalition members:

1. Article 42 of the Constitution

2. Multinational Georgia

3. American Chamber of Commerce

4. Georgian Small and Medium Business Association

5. Civil Integration Foundation

6. Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession

7. Business and Economic Center

8. Liberali

9. Center for Protection of Constitutional Rights

10. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

11. The Union 21st Century

12. Georgian Young Lawyers Association

13. Human Rights Center

14. Transparency International Georgia

15. Union of Meskhetian Democrats

16. Liberty Institute

17. Civil Development Agency

18. United Nations Association of Georgia

19. The European Law Students’ Association Georgia

20. Civil Society Institute

21. Open Society Georgia Foundation

22. Institute of Democracy

23. Institute for Development of Freedom of Information

24. Tbilisi Media Club

25. Human Rights Priority

26. Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center

27. Foundation for the Support of Legal Education

28. Institute of Civil Engagement

29. Association of Law Firms of Georgia

30. Association of Young Economists of Georgia

31. Eurasia Partnership Foundation

32. European Choice of Georgia

33. Partnership for Human Rights

34. Human Rights Network

35. Georgian Democratic Initative

36. Sapari Union

37. Rehabilitation Initiative for Vulnerable Groups

38. Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD)

LLPL "Frema"
01.03.2018
History Of The Organization
History Of The Organization
Article 42 of the Constitution is a non-governmental, non-political, human rights advocacy organization founded on September 12, 1997. The members of the organization are professional lawyers providing free of charge legal assistance to the victims of human rights abuses in local and international courts and other state agencies. The organization aims at promoting the establishment of the rule of law in Georgia through introduction of international standards for the protection of human rights and freedoms, and increase of legal awareness of the public.
The name of the organization is associated with Article 42 of Georgian Constitution based on which: