On March 13, 2020, prior to the declaration of a state of emergency, the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) adopted recommendations to prevent spreading of the Novel Coronavirus. The recommendations are related to the measures to be implemented in the court system to ensure a gradual transition of court proceedings to a remote regime. This is a positive development. However, it is important to ensure openness of court proceedings and enable court monitors and other interested parties to observe trials. 
Openness of court hearings is an important aspect of fair trial for parties to proceedings. Public hearings are important for both fulfilment of rights of individuals as well as for the society at large. The public nature of court proceedings protects parties from the administration of justice behind closed doors, in the absence of public oversight.
The recommendations adopted by the HCOJ also refer to the restriction of the number of attendees of court hearings, including representatives of media. This, naturally, does not imply the closure of proceedings and a complete prohibition of attendance. However, the majority of Tbilisi City Court judges have been fully restricting attendance of proceedings. The practice has been inconsistent with this regard. Some criminal trial judges allow representatives of monitoring organizations to attend trials, while the majority of judges restrict their attendance by wrongfully citing the regulations. Thus, they disregard the existing regulations and establish a faulty practice. 
Under the Presidential Decree N1 adopted on March 21, 2020, “court hearings envisioned in the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, can be conducted remotely, by electronic means of communication.” Conducting court proceedings remotely by electronic means of communication does not imply a complete or a partial closure of hearings. This regulation is aimed at preventing a contagion among participants of proceedings. This objective does not imply holding court hearings in disregard of the standards established in the Constitution of Georgia and Criminal Procedure Code.
The Presidential Decree and the HCOJ Regulation do not provide a legal basis for the restriction of the right to fair trial. The disregard of the principle of open hearings is a grave violation of the rights of the parties to the proceedings. At the same time, the restrictions established by judges essentially violate the right to public information for persons who are interested in attending trials. The practice of full or partial closure of proceedings, except for specific cases established in the legislation, contradicts the principles of the rule of law and undermine individuals’ right to fair trial. 
The Coalition is calling on the HCOJ and Court Chairs:
  • to immediately address the detected shortcomings of court proceedings with an aim of preventing the violation of one of the most important elements of the right to fair trial – the principle of openness, and avoiding a full restriction of openness of court proceedings;
  • while holding hearings remotely, as established by the Presidential Decree, to ensure interested persons’ (including court monitors’) uninterrupted access to court proceedings, in addition to providing for the participation of parties.
We inform you that for the purpose of avoiding the danger of Covid-19 spread, due to the State of Emergency in the country, from the 2nd of April till the 21st April, all types of procedures concerning International Protection (Asylum) onsite are suspended.

We also inform you that applications on International Protection (Asylum) will be received on the following e-mail address:

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In case of existing/originating additional questions/problems on International Protection (Asylum), please, contact us in the Division by calling the following hotline number: 598 08 00 97 (available24/7) or via the following e-mail address: or call UNHCR on the following number: 577 41 56 10 (available24/7)
On March 10, 2020, the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) nominated Nino Kadagidze to the Parliament as a candidate for the Chair position. She was one of those 10 candidates  who the HCOJ nominated to Parliament for the Supreme Court without any public hearing and discussion at the end of December, 2018. The Coalition believes that the candidates on the list were leaders, members or sympathizers of the influential group within the judiciary. In case of Nino Kadagidze, this was well illustrated during her hearing at the Legal Affairs Committee, when she found it difficult to discuss internal threats to judicial independence and practically denied the existence of the influential group, or the “clan,” within the judiciary.
She was also one of the 14 persons who were appointed to the Supreme Court last year, amid significant shortcomings. This process was not assessed positively by any independent observer, domestic or international.
Significantly, the HCOJ made the decision of nominating her upon consultations with Supreme Court judges only, behind closed doors. Judges from the first and second instance courts, as well as civil society representatives and other interested parties were not involved in these discussions. While the HCOJ does not have a legal obligation for such open consultation, it would have been advisable to have an open and inclusive selection process, given the high public interest, and in order to secure more legitimacy for this process.
Given the above questions towards the selection process and the history of judge Kadagidze’s appointment to the supreme court, the Coalition considers nomination of Nino Kadagidze’s candidacy for the high post of Chair of the Supreme Court of Georgia unjustifiable and calls on members of Parliament not to support her candidacy.
Due to virus COVID-19 outbreak “Article 42 of the Constitution” NGO to perform the work remotely to 20 March 2020.
Legal assistance and legal consultations for asylum seekers, refugees, and humanitarian status holders are available through the following contact information:
The UNHCR Project Staff HOTLINE: 593 111 405
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"Статья 42 Конституции" 
В связи со вспышкой вирусного COVID-19 "ст. 42 Конституции" выполнять работу онлайн до 20 марта 2020 года.
Правовая помощь и юридические консультации для просителей убежища и беженцев, предоставляются через следующую контактную информацию:
The UNHCR Project Staff HOTLINE: 593 111 405
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