Lawyers Blame Judges for Human Rights Violations
Lawyers from Kakheti and non-governmental organizations speak about faulty court reform. According to them, the reform turned judges into notaries working for the prosecutor's office. Furthermore, the whole system is in chaos, and there are many problems.
Representatives of Kakheti based non-governmental organizations primarily blame the Gurjaani, Kvareli and Telavi District Courts.
"A single Judge, Shalva Mchedlishvili, now works in the Gurjaani District Court after coming from the Dedoflistskaro District Court. The Gurjaani Court has many cases to be discussed and the process could last for years. We have problems with verdicts. The judge is either ill or you can't find anyone in the building during business hours. They often blame the clerk for the late delivery of the verdict. As a result, we are late to appeal a judgment at the appellate level and have additional problems," said lawyer Lia Khuroshvili.
Lawyers complain about judges' assistants and clerks. Nana Chabukadze, a lawyer for Human Rights Centre's Kakheti Office who is monitoring courts in Kakheti with the support of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the following: "I have been trying to obtain information about trial schedules in district courts in the Kakheti Region, and with the exception of Dedoflistskaro Court, I have not succeeded. Judges prefer that we get the scheduling information from the notice board in the hall. However, this is a procedural violation since we cannot find schedules, let alone notice boards, in the district courts of Gurjaani, Kvareli, Sighnaghi, and Sagarejo. The court is a public office, and according to the Georgian Administrative Code, judges must provide this information. We petitioned the Supreme Council of Justice to get an order [requiring these district courts post their schedules]. Several days ago, we were received a reply from Natia Shioshvili, the temporary director of the Judicial Department's Organization Service. She contended that, "in all Kakheti district courts, you can find notice boards according to law. The information on the boards is replaced quite frequently."
Members of the Lawyers Development Centre express their concern regarding the current situation at the district courts. According to Tinatin Phkhovelishvili, director of the center, Judge Vazha Turashvili, who sits at the Kvareli District, violates human rights at trials. "We were informed that Judge Turashvili shouts at the witnesses and confuses them. It is one example of his abusiveness. However, several courts are in much better shape," said Phkhovelishvili.
Local citizens also complain the courts. Giorgi Nakhutsrishvili of Telavi said that the bailiff, Aleksi Saakashvili, did not let him into the district court building and insulted him. "I arrived at the Telavi Court. I was wondering when my relative's trial was scheduled. However, Bailiff Saakashvili refused to let me enter. He insulted me when I explained him the reason of my visit. I asked the assistant to Judge Tsertsvadze for help, but he ignored me," said Nakhutsrishvili.
Member of Parliament, Zurab Tkemaladze, experienced a similar problem with Bailiff Saakashvili. When he arrived at the Telavi Court regarding Luka Ramazashvili's trial, the bailiff refused to let him enter and threatened to have him arrested if he did not obey.
We asked Marika Tsertsvadze, administrative head of the Telavi Regional Court and a member of Council of Justice, to comment on these allegations.
"The problem has already been resolved. You do not need to make it public. Bailiffs do their duty. I cannot say anything else," said Tsertsvasdze by phone.
There are also problems at the Kvareli District Court. Nino Omarashvili, responsible for public information at the court, lent credence to complaints. "Sometimes Judge Shalva Mchedlishvili is not at court. I cannot say the reason for his absence on this particular day. He or a family member may be ill. The number of cases is too many for one judge, and it is really very difficult for him to manage his entire caseload. He is exhausted. For example, last week he had a fever at work. He has even worked weekends recently. The judge spends his entire time discussing administrative cases. As for the information that should be posted on the notice board -- I can not do anything unless the judge's assistant gave me the schedule of cases," said Omarashvili.
According to Gurjaani District Court, 365 cases were heard in 2006. Of these, 107 cases are still being heard, while another 118 cases have already been decided... Fifty-six cases were sent to others courts…
We tried to get in touch with officials at the Supreme Council of Justice. Unfortunately, we could not reach anyone.
Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti
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