Since 1996, ABA ROLI has worked in Georgia to advance the rule of law. In the past 25 years, our work in Georgia addressed legal reforms across several issues, such as domestic abuse, anti-corruption, public integrity, criminal law, and other legislative reforms; and strengthened the judiciary, the legal profession, and legal education. These efforts include administering judicial and bar examinations, supporting the creation of the Georgian Bar Association, Association of Law Firms of Georgia, Georgian Law Students’ Association and Legal Aid Service creating a case management system to support effective enforcement of judgments, developing technological solutions for Georgia’s Enforcement Bureau, and improving access to justice. We have worked alongside the Ministry of Justice’s Enforcement Department, the Judges of Georgia, the High Council of Justice, the High School of Justice, the Georgian government, Georgian Parliament, Legal Aid Service, Public Defender’s Office, numerous universities (including Tbilisi State, “Alma Mater”, Batumi State, Georgian Technical, Gori State, Ilia State, Kutaisi State, New Vision, Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, and Zugdidi State), the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) and the Centre for the Protection of Constitutional Rights (CPCR).
Justice system strengthening and rule of law promotion are clear priorities for Georgia. Key reforms in the judiciary, law enforcement and prosecutor’s office have been underway for several years. Some proposed legal reforms focus on separating prosecutorial functions from investigation as recommended by the Venice Commission. Parliament adopted legislative amendments that comprise the so-called Fourth Wave of post-independence Judicial Reform to address ongoing shortcomings in the judiciary after considerable advocacy exerted by from civil society and the international community. Fourth Wave amendments, coupled with the three proceeding waves of judicial reform, improved the foundation for a more independent, transparent, accountable, and efficient judiciary in Georgia. Effective implementation of the reforms continues to require ongoing support and attention.
The judiciary, prosecutorial services, and law enforcement continue to work towards improving their efficiency and independence. Georgia’s Bar Association advocates for legal reforms in the justice system and lawyers are eager for opportunities to improve their professional skills. While legal education institutions and/or law schools have demonstrated significant progress, these institutions remain interested in additional guidance and assistance to help prepare a highly qualified cadre of future Georgian legal professionals. Through customized support, Georgia’s core justice institutions, actors, and mechanisms will be well-equipped to address the legal needs and justice challenges of society as well as responsive to the priorities of the citizens they serve.
ABA ROLI’s current program in the country works to considerably expand peer-to-peer learning and in-court mentoring between Georgian and American legal professionals; build a culture of engagement between the courts and respective communities; and fortify capacity among regional courts/judges and legal professionals operating at sub-national levels. In 2022, we helped launch a five-year program to support the implementation of justice reforms, including but not limited to those associated with the Fourth Wave of Judicial Reform, that are institutional in nature aimed at improving the independence, transparency, accountability, and efficiency of core justice institutions, service providers, and actors.