Association of European Lawyers Supports Georgian Colleagues
06 October, 2011
Association of European Lawyers Supports Georgian Colleagues

Georgian lawyers are vesting hope in their foreign friends
Georgia was visited by Rupert D’Cruz, Chairman of Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), together with a representative delegation. The delegation sought detailed familiarization with Georgian legislative reforms and work of Georgian lawyers. Members of the delegation met with the Chairman of Georgian Bar Association, members of the Executive Council and Chairman of the Ethics Commission.
Within the framework

of the visit, the delegation also conducted a seminar of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe for Georgian lawyers. Main topic of the seminar was the role of lawyers in the society, main values of the lawyer’s profession, international and European perspectives, as well as accessibility of justice.
The CCBE Chairman D’Cruz spoke extensively about the main values of the lawyer’s profession. In his words, it’s one of the most popular and demanded professions in today’s world and that the interest towards it grows day by day. This interest stems from the role and place of this profession in the society, as well as the values it has. He noted that the level of judicial development of any state is measured against the quality of justice, implying a critical role of the lawyer’s profession in it.  Robert Corzine, a member of bar council committee, shared experience of European countries accumulated in this sphere with the seminar participants.
During the seminar Georgian lawyers expressed their views and impressions. Lawyer Soso Baratashvili talked about factors obstructing fair justice in Georgia. He stated that in the last years, there are clear signs that the Authorities in Georgia are willfully trying to belittle the profession.
“We are concerned about numerous facts of arrests and punishments being ravaged against lawyers in Georgia in order to restrict and block their professional activities. Georgian Bar Association has been sending out numerous protest statements. This problem is in the center of CCBE’s attention. An illuminating example is the subordination of a part of lawyers to the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance. This is done through the Article 8 of the law of Georgian on Legal Assistance.
We believe that it is categorically unacceptable to subordinate lawyers to the Ministry because it both strangles freedom of the lawyers and wedges discrimination between the lawyers inside and those outside the Ministry structure. Legislative restrictions represent another topic of concern. Such restrictions, especially those introduced for the criminal proceedings, imparts disproportionately huge powers to the prosecutors, compared to the defending sides. All these often render the work of lawyers less effective and undermine its standing in the society,” – explained Soso Baratashvili. He hoped that CCBE and other respectable international organizations would extend their hands to help Georgian lawyers fight the problem.
Georgian lawyers almost unanimously pointed out that lawyers, non-governmental organizations, human rights organizations and activists are constantly reporting about an incessant chain of severe procedural violations, including illegal arrests, violations of principles such as equality of sides and competition and alike.
The meeting participants noted a certain administrative case where a citizen is suing the State for allegedly illegal appropriation and which has not seen a single court hearing for the last five years.
According to Zaza Khatiashvili, Chairman of the Georgian Bar Association, miscarriage of the criminal justice reform, disregard towards the role of lawyers, artificially created circumstances to obstruct the process of obtaining documental evidence from the State agencies and subordination of the legal assistance service to the Ministry of Correction and Legal Assistance defy international standards of jurisprudence.
At the end of the seminar Rupert D’Cruz, the CCBE Chairman announced that the committee intends to collaborate with Georgian lawyers closely and called them to engage in a dialogue with the Authorities. He asserted that Georgian Authorities are interested in such dialogue.
According to experts, Georgian Bar Association made a breakthrough because it managed to invite, host and interest the entire CCBE and Committee. CCBE Chairman D’Cruz and the Chairman of the Georgian Bar Association set up the new office of the Association.

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