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Repressive Legislation Regarding Court Cases

Repressive Legislation Regarding Court Cases

Both lawyers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) oppose the Georgian Criminal Law. They consider the law repressive. According to the law, the position of the attorney is minimized in many cases and often there is no place for such legal professionals. Furthermore, if a person cannot be represented by an advocate of their own choosing, their rights are being severely violated.

A lawyer of the ‘Human Rights Information and Documentation Center’, David Managadze, is one of those who is speaking out about the negative aspects of the law. According to him, there are articles in the law that violate human rights. He is talking about the fifth chapter, clauses 26, 295, 550, regarding the sending of messages to the opposing parties by post.

David Managadze states: “According to the code of criminal procedure rules, the witness, victim and the accused can receive information by telephone or by post. As a rule, the witness, victim and accused receive information by phone and the attorney gets the official notification. If a trial is going to be held on September 1, and you get the notification September 3, you can’t attend. If we take into the consideration future changes to the law, the attorney or one of the parties will be responsible for someone missing their trial; it will cause serious problems.”

Under the law, the date the notification is received is the day it is sent off. When the notification actually gets to the recipient by post is not mentioned. “The date of receipt of a complaint sent by post or by some other technical means; is considered to be the day when it is sent through the post or via some other offices.”

“There is nothing mentioned in the law to say if the recipient received the document or not, in order to fulfill their responsibilities”, says the lawyer.

A second problem arises if the person gets the court decision document late – this can result in difficulties during a subsequent appeal. “If the person gets the document one month late, the appeal will be postponed and the process will go on for a long time.”

In answering the question regarding the court’s eagerness that the defendant or the attorney does not appear in court, Managadze states: “Absence of the defendant is used as a reason to arrest him or her. They say ‘I sent you the notification; you did not appear, so there is a chance you will disappear again’. They then arrest the person and sentence them to pretrial detention.”

As for the solution, according to Managadze, if there are no amendments to the legislation, at the very least the issues regarding the post should be addressed. “The post should have a set time limit to arrive, for example, find out how long it takes a letter from Tbilisi to be sent to Batumi. The time period should be estimated and met by all means; if it is the fault of the post office, they should be punished or be held responsible.”

MPs do like the law and do not want to change it. As Nazi Aronia, a representative of the Parliamentary Committee for Legal Issues says: “The majority of attorneys do not like the law because they can’t benefit from it themselves. In the past, they tried to postpone court processes, now they can’t do it. I support this legislation despite the serious disagreement. A lawyer, who is involved in a case, should know everything about it. He should always know when the court date is expected to be, and should not wait for the court notification. It is not an excuse if he did not get the notification and could not attend the court. This is not acceptable. According to the new amendment which is supposed to be adopted soon, if the attorney cannot attend the trial, he or she has to announce this to the court 24 hours beforehand - otherwise he will be replaced in the trial process.”

For lawyers and the accused, this position is not acceptable and they consider it a human rights violation.

Eka Gulua 

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