Georgian Bar Association Starts Fighting at International Level
19 April, 2012

Georgia, who tops the list of business environment reformers in international ratings, obviously is the place of persecution and detention of advocates as Rose revolution government has already imprisoned 142 advocates during the last seven years. Georgian Journal interviewed Zaza Khatiashvili, President of Georgian Bar Association, who shared his experience with Ukrainian colleagues during the Ukrainian-Georgian  round table on April 5, 2012.    

 

Q: How do you assess the visit of Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) in Georgia?

A: First and foremost

I can say that the visit of Ukrainian colleagues will have a positive impact on our bar development, we will be exchanging experience and cooperating, our lawyer will enter Ukrainian market, and this for me as the president of Georgian Bar Association (GBA) means that our advocate corpus incorporating 3700 members through cooperation with Ukrainian colleagues will expand their business and field of activity at Ukrainian market.

When I was in Kiev in this past February I held a press-conference to make them aware what happens with corpus of lawyers in Georgia, I provided a lot of examples of  pressure on lawyers, there is no other country globe over with bigger pressure on advocates than in Georgia. For 73 years of soviet system only 75 advocates were tried, Saakashvili’s regime sentenced about 142 advocates during last 7 years and the figure increases catastrophically. I held press-conferences in Kiev and Europe and started my speech by words: “Am greeting from the state of 21 century’s Hitler regime.” Lali Jimsherashvili, an advocate who had to migrate to France to ask political asylum, also came to Brussels to hold a press-conference on February 28, ambassador of the US to EU attended the press-conference too and when Lali spoke journalists started crying. I gave to the US ambassador all evidences of pressure, how this “beacon of democracy” convicted 142 lawyers. Our Bar started fighting on the EU level to make clear that if they do not help stop Saakashvili’s regime then the free profession of lawyers will no longer exist here. Press-conference in Brussels is the first step of our Bar to prove that Saakashvili regime reigns here and each lawyers implements its advocacy practice under fear. Before my going to Europe, we sent letters to G8 heads EU, and to Thomas Hummer, Commissioner of Human Rights Commission, to help us. European International Observatory made two reports in one year; that is unprecedented for they make only one per year; the third one is underway now and it describes that there is an institutional crackdown on advocacy corpus, that Georgian lawyers implement their practice under fear, I took this international document with me when I went to Europe however they already knew everything quite well.

Q: What’s the situation in other post-Soviet countries  respective to the persecution of advocates?

A: Lukashenko who is acknowledged as the last dictator, has arrested only 5 lawyers. So I question if Lukashenko with 5 arrested lawyers is a dictator, who is Saakashvili who put 142 advocates behind bars in last seven years?  Let’s compare situation with Ukraine: its population is 40 million and only 30 lawyers have been arrested, while here with about 4 million people we have 142 lawyers arrested  and 18 out of them are women.

Q: What are the arrested advocates charged with?

A: The charge is cheating mainly. If an advocate lost a case, the client sues that she/he did not defend client properly and they are arrested. Mariana Ivelashvili, the most popular person of 21 century, an advocate with 22-year experience was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 7 years due to this very reason. I asked journalists to shoot a film that was translated in English and when I showed this film in Paris advocates were crying at the presentation. One Brazilian advocate told me he thought the worst court globe over was in Brazil but their court perhaps is by a century ahead of our court. Everybody can lose a case, how it can be possible to arrest advocates for this. All advocates must be arrested then; there is no advocate who wins all cases. In Paris French Bar Association made a banner and 1800 advocates signed that dictator Saakashvili represses advocates and he was forced to pardon Mariana now but she sevved her sentence for 3 years for no reason. Now court of appellation sentenced Tariel Murvanishvili. He won the case and required reward, but this reward property fell under the intereset of the state and this man faces 7 years of imprisonment if he does not gift the property to the state.

Q: What is the reason of this persecution?

A: Advocate corpus is under pressure of Sakashvili because we won all cases in European court against this regime and proved that this regime oppresses, rapes, tortures prisoners. Therefore this regime sees enemies in the face of advocates, protectors of human rights and think that if advocates will win all these cases they will be tried eventually.

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