On May 4–6, 2007, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative organized a retreat in Bakuriani for the Ethics Commission of the Georgian Bar Association (GBA) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The goal of the retreat was to draft amendments to the Code of Ethics for Advocates, the Code of Disciplinary Procedure, the Law of Georgia on Advocates, and the GBA Charter. The amendments drafted are related to the activities of the Ethics Commission as well as the disciplinary responsibility of advocates. During one year of its practice, the Ethics Commission identified a number of deficiencies in the codes and the need for change both in these codes and also in the Law of Georgia on Advocates and the GBA Charter.
“The retreat has been a great success” GBA Ethics Commission Chairman Eka Beselia said. “With the great support and valuable expertise by the Rule of Law Initiative’s Legal Specialist Judge John Brown and Country Director Donna Wright, we have been able to draft amendments which will enable the Ethics Commission to work more efficiently and make an enormous step forward towards compliance with international standards” she added.
Based on the request of the Ethics Commission members, the Rule of Law Initiative Georgia legal specialist and staff will continue to provide expertise to the commission to further improve the draft amendments and present them for adoption to the General Assembly tentatively scheduled for fall 2007 and to the Parliament of Georgia. In addition, the Initiative’s Research and Program Development Office in Washington D.C. will conduct an assessment of the above mentioned documents and amendments by July 2007. The results and recommendations of the assessment will be considered by the Ethics Commission and incorporated in the amendments.
Many of the children living in Georgia’s orphanages face a bleak future. At the age of 18, when they are required to begin living on their own, they are often unprepared for adult life. Orphanages lack the resources to teach their charges about basic rules and laws, which limits their ability to participate fully in society. The lives of many former orphans are marked by poverty, lost opportunities and even crime. With the aim of positively influencing the lives of those living in orphanages, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is working with law students from Tbilisi State University to fully implement a Street Law Program in Georgia.
After a highly successful pilot project was conducted in Bakuriani in December 2007, ABA ROLI joined with those training in the Street Law Program curriculum to conduct full-scale training for students living in Tbilisi’s Tsisartkela orphanage. To prepare for the training, law students worked closely with ABA ROLI to develop a new, targeted curriculum developed for these students. Using knowledge gained during the Bakuriani pilot project, the law students developed relevant exercises and case-studies in the areas of law and legal system, constitution and democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, criminal law, juvenile rights, civil law, conflict resolution and negotiations.
Seventeen students from the orphanage attended the 9-week course, which was led by 8 law students from Tbilisi State University. At the project’s conclusion, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s Georgia office and trainers conducted an inaugural mock trial to commemorate International Children’s Day at Tsisartkela. All orphanage students involved in Street Law Program participated in the mock-trial by taking on different roles—some served as prosecutors, some as defense lawyers and others as judges.
Given the runaway success of the project, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative plans to continue implementing its Street Law Program in orphanages in Tbilisi and other regions of Georgia.
For more information about our projects in Georgia, contact Julie Garuccioat [email protected].