August 28, 2008

Georgian Lawyers Help Ensure Fair Elections

August 2008

On May 14, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI)hosted an event to present a manual entitled Election Law Manual forLawyers which can be used to train lawyers to identify, investigate and litigate election related disputes. ABA ROLI, in cooperation with the National Democratic Institute, the Center for the Protection of Constitutional Rights (CPCR) and the Georgian Bar Association, trained more than 80 lawyers representing various political parties and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

In addition to an overview of international standards and basic election principles, the manual covers the rights and obligations of voters, local and international observers, representatives of political parties and the media.The manual also discusses the functions of precinct and district election commissions and provides instructions for dealing with election complaints. The publication has been distributed to Georgian NGOs, Georgian Bar Association members, international organizations and other interested parties.

To supplement this training and to help ensure fair elections in Georgia, ABA ROLI has also implemented a voter education campaign. It is critically important that voters be aware of their rights before, during and after the election process; toward that end, ABA published informational brochures onvoters’ rights and distributed them widely to the public. ABA ROLI also established election hotlines to support voters during the May 21 parliamentary elections. With support from the CPCR, election hotlines were created in Tbilisi, Gori and Telavi, where qualified lawyers received calls on alleged violations andrelied on the manual to help inform the advice and counsel they provided to callers.