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Non-Governmental Organization Sues Judges in Council of Justice

17.08.2006
7._sek__da_17_agvisto.gifThe NGO ‘The Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre’ is monitoring judges in Kakheti, as part of a project supported by Human Resources Office of the OSCE mission to Georgia. As a result of the monitoring, the NGO has taken Telavi, Lagodekhi and Kvareli judges to the Council of Justice – demanding a remedy for the non-issuance of public information and insults to ethnic minorities. The organization has been monitoring all eight district courts for two months now. It is very difficult to travel around the region, so it is important that the NGO’s observer knows what case is being discussed when and in which regional court - so he can attend the appropriate trial.

We expected the courts to assist us regarding the law, so we sent requests to all of the Kakheti courts, asking for information about cases already earmarked for discussion by the judges. We asked them to give us information about certain cases; the exact time and place of the trial, and the name of the judge involved. This valuable information was sent to us by the Dedoflistskaro District Court on time (and we receive it regularly). The information was also delivered from the Sighnaghi and Gurjaani district courts, although the Sighnaghi court stopped sending us the information without any explanation. As for the other courts (Sagarejo, Akhmeta, Telavi) they fully ignored The Human Rights Information and Documentation Center’s demands and did not reply to us, except for Kvareli and Lagodekhi”, says Lia Khuroshvili, a lawyer for the Centre.

The NGO was informed by N. Tukhashvili, the person responsible for giving out public information regarding the Kvareli District Court, who violated the time limit, laid down by legislation: “Information on the cases, set to be discussed by the Kvareli District Court is put up weekly on the notice board in the court hall. You can get this information from there’ stated the letter. However those responsible for carrying out the monitoring project saw no notice board in the court hall.   

“I managed to attend one of the civil proceedings at the Kvareli District Court, where a journalist was the defendant. Despite the court being open, the judge Vazha Turashvili asked if any extra people were attending the trial. After having found out that I was there to monitor the proceedings, he declared this to be a hindrance to his work and oppressive. He prohibited me from recording the trial on my Dictaphone - which could have been used without making any noise or extra movement in the hall. These restrictions prevented us from being able to do any work”, says lawyer Rusudan Zardiashvili.

As representatives from ‘The Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre’ pointed out when talking to us, the only reasons for taking a law suit to the Council of Justice are the Lagodekhi District Court’s letter and the 17th July verdict.

“It is true, that according to article  41 of the Georgian General Administrative Code, public officials can decide to refuse to give out information, but it is stated in the reply they sent us, that we were being sent the ‘Lagodekhi District Court’s verdict of the 17th July this year.’ The verdict was enclosed in the request passed to the judge’s assistant, a certain Sh. Kharaishvili, who is responsible for giving out public information.” states lawyer Lia Khuroshvili who cannot hide her concern. “Since even a non-governmental organization is refused the information, which must be put up on the notice board in every court building, and the ‘person responsible for public information’, whose primary duty is to give this out in time, sends us such a letter - regarding all of this, how fair can the court verdicts passed in these and other cases for ordinary citizens be?” asks the lawyer.

They also say at the ‘Human Rights Center’ that they are concerned about incidents which took place at the Lagodekhi, Kvareli and Telavi district courts. “Representatives of ethnic minorities, arriving at the court, are laughed at by assistants to the judges and the court chancellery staff, not to mention the judges Vazha Turashvili (Kvareli), Nana Chalatashvili (Lagodekhi) and Natela Djashiashvili (Telavi) themselves; these people find themselves in an awkward situation where there they face discrimination,” they state at the centre.

For the whole day yesterday we tried to get in touch with the judges but they all turned out to be busy - ‘We have no time,” was their reply.

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

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