December 09, 2015

Stakeholders Applaud ABA ROLI Commentaries on Georgia’s Criminal Procedure Code

On December 1, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) released the first set of official commentaries on Georgia’s 2010 Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). A total of 118 representatives from the country’s legal community, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and international donors attended the event at the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Several dignitaries, including Nino Gvenetadze, Supreme Court chairwoman, Irakli Shotadze, Georgia’s chief prosecutor, Zaza Khatiashvili, Georgian Bar Association chairman, Ian Kelly, U.S. ambassador to Georgia, Michael Turner, senior police advisor at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Alexander Baramidze, Georgian deputy justice minister, Levan Murusidze,  the High Council of Justice’s secretary, Vakhtang Khmaladz, chairman of the Legal Committee of the Parliament, and Lali Papiashvili , Constitutional Court judge, attended the event and expressed their support of the project.

Since the 2010 CPC, which ushered in sweeping changes to Georgia’s criminal justice system, was adopted, competing interpretations of its provisions have proven problematic for the criminal law community and for the pursuit of justice for criminal defendants. To address the need for official commentaries that have the buy-in of all criminal justice actors, ABA ROLI held a series of roundtables for 25 stakeholders and decision-makers—including representatives from the judiciary, the prosecutor’s office, the Georgian Bar Association and law schools. The roundtable discussions, which began in fall 2014, led to the formation of a 10-member group of experts, including judges, prosecutors, law professors and defense attorneys, to draft the commentaries.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor Shotadze said that the commentaries were a result of cooperation among various stakeholders. “I want to thank the United States and the ABA for the support in this important project that has enabled us to turn a wish into reality,” the chief prosecutor said.

The working group met frequently throughout 2015 to discuss the CPC, identify mutually acceptable interpretations of the CPC’s provisions and develop the set of commentaries.

“Laws are, by their nature, complex. Even the most skilled of drafters cannot account for every eventuality and a law with as many major changes as the CPC is bound to have competing interpretations in some areas,” said U.S. Ambassador Kelly, speaking at the December 1 event. “That is why this publication is so important. Those ‘gray areas’ are analyzed and discussed to give further predictability to the law and to help practitioners understand how to best navigate it.”

Georgian Bar Association Chairman Zaza Khatiashvili applauded ABA ROLI for fostering cohesive collaboration among stakeholders. He said, “By bringing all the parties to the judicial sector together for a common goal, ABA ROLI has achieved the impossible.”

ABA ROLI’s program to support criminal law reform in Georgia is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

To learn more about our work in Georgia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.