Georgia in crosshairs over justice reforms

By Megan Malloy

04 December 2012 at 12:19 BST

Human rights campaigners yesterday called on the Georgian government to prioritise justice reforms and to bolster the autonomy of the legal profession in a report expressing severe concerns over the independence of the judiciary in the country.

President Mikheil Saakashvilli: Georgian government under fire over rule of law

President Mikheil Saakashvilli: Georgian government under fire over rule of law homeros/

The report recommended that the judiciary ensure criminal defendants are given a fair trial, as conviction rates are unusually high. It urged investigations into complaints of restricted access to clients in detention, as well as the abuse of clients while awaiting trial.
The report from the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute was published in the wake of a fact-finding project to Tbilisi in April. It cites institutional challenges facing the Georgian Bar Association and the high number of prosecutions of advocates as obstructions to a fairer legal system.

Equality of arms

The institute urged that more co-operation between the judiciary, the local bar, the prosecutor’s office, and the Ministry of Justice would encourage reform in the legal sector and inspire more trust and confidence in the system.
‘The current conviction rate in criminal proceedings is exceptionally high and is cause for serious concern about equality of arms,’ said Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, the institute’s co-chairwoman. ‘Georgia must continue to work to advance the rule of law and to strength its legal institutions.’


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