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Address of NGOs to Political Parties Working on Election Reforms

Since November 2010 the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Transparency International – Georgia, the New Generation – New Initiative (nGnI) and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) have been actively observing the process of negotiations for improvement of election environment, supported by the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES). The process was transparent as a number of international and local NGOs that in their turn updated public on developments in the negotiations, could freely attend it. As you are aware, on June 27, 2011, five political parties signed an agreement offered by the ruling party on measures for improvement of the election environment. Later the agreement was signed by several other political parties.    On July 8, 2011, the first meeting of the editorial group working on the election reform was held at the Parliament of Georgia. The group focuses on issues that will be reflected in the election legislation on the basis of the agreement between the stakeholders. The editorial group is scheduled to hold the second meeting in two weeks. The meeting will not be attended by representatives of non-governmental and international organizations. Public is unaware of the composition and the working format of the group.

2011-07-13 13:30 See more

GYLA’s Research State Policy toward IDPs (Analysis of policy deficiencies) Presentation

On July 11, 2011, at 12:00 p.m. the Georgian Young Lawyers‘ Association held a presentation of outcomes of the project Durable solutions – a Way Forward for IDPs in Georgia and the research State Policy toward IDPs, Analysis of Policy Deficiencies. Since 2010, the Georgian Young Lawyers‘ Association in partnership with the Danish Refugee Council has been implementing the project Durable Solutions – a Way Forward for IDPs in Georgia, which has been financially supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The project entailed various activities, including legal assistance, raising awareness, advocacy and monitoring of evictions. During the project implementation, several significant issues were identified that are related to certain problems. In order to analyze the problems, the research State Policy toward IDPs, Analysis of Policy Deficiencies was prepared. The research analyzes the issues that affected IDPs the most during the project implementation. Specifically, it was identified that granting the IDP status remains to be problematic, as some of the internally displaced persons still have not received the status. Furthermore, provision of financial compensation is also problematic, which is one the one hand caused by ambiguity of applicable norms.

2011-07-11 10:22 See more

GYLA’s Lawyers Defending Interests of the Detained Photographers were not Allowed to Meet with the Detainees

Lawyers of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association are defending interests of Irakli and Natia Gvendadzes. On July 7 the lawyers met with and talked to the detainees but the following evening, on July 8, when the photographers where formally charged, the investigation did not allow GYLA’s lawyers to meet with the detainees whose interests they are protecting. According to the investigator, the Gvindadzes have refused to use the service of GYLA’s lawyers and have decided to hire another lawyer. The investigator also presented an application on preclusion.  GYLA’s lawyers were demanding to be allowed to meet with the detainees personally for them to confirm that the decision to change the lawyers was made willingly and without any pressure but the lawyers’ demand was refused by the investigator. It should be noted that during the most recent meeting with Irakli Gedenidze, the lawyer did not suspect anything about a possible preclusion. To the contrary, at the meeting it was agreed that the lawyer would frequently visit the detainee and that they would meet at the time he was formally charged.

2011-07-09 10:41 See more

GYLA’s Georgian Media Legal Defence Center is Defending the Arrested Photo Journalists

The Georgian Media Legal Defence Centre of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association is defending photo journalists Irakli and Natia Gedevanidzes and Zurab Kurtsikidze arrested under Article 314 of the Criminal Code of Georgia - on charges of espionage - by the Interior Ministry on July 7, 2011. The lawyers met with the arrested persons yesterday, on July 7. The case has been classified as secret; therefore, due to their professional obligation, lawyers of the GMLDC may not release any details of the matter. It is important that among the arrested photo journalists there are photographers that have cooperated with international media outlets, which causes high public interest in the detainees and the fact of the detention. The GMLDC believes that the rule of law is the value that any citizen of a democratic society aspires to protect. Therefore, the Centre calls on the Interior Ministry to make the decision about classifying the case (individual administrative-legal act) public on its own initiative, and protect the legitimate public interests by providing society with credible arguments about expediency of classifying the case as secret. 

2011-07-08 13:29 See more

GYLA comments on the draft adopted by the Parliament of Georgia related to the definition of the status of religious unions

On June 28 the draft on “introducing of amendments to the Civil Code of Georgia” was initiated to the Parliament. According to the decision adopted by the bureau of the Parliament the draft has been considered in an accelerated way and was adopted by three readings within five days from the day of its initiation. Such velocity excludes participation of religious unions, especially religious minorities, in consideration of the legislative amendments. Moreover, information on the sessions of legal issues committee, where the draft has been considered by the first and the second reading, was not published on the web-site of the Parliament, which is gross violation of regulations. The final copy of the draft adopted yesterday became accessible to us only today.       According to the draft the new Article 15091 is added to the Civil Code of Georgia and according to its first paragraph “religious unions will be able to register as legal entities of public law.” Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association considers that it is improper to grant the status of legal entity of public law to religious organizations. However, since constitutional agreement already permits such practice and revision of the document is not on the agenda, we would only examine issues related explicitly to the draft.

2011-07-07 06:44 See more

GYLA appeals the Members of Parlaiment to respect referendum results and to obsere the law

The agreement reached between the ruling party and some opposition parties on June 27, 2011 envisages increase of the total number of the Members of Parliament from 150 to 190. For the last period opinions were voiced repeatedly that Georgian Parliament possessed authority to increase the number of MPs by the constitutional amendments. We would like to remind the society requirements of the Georgian legislation, according to which this agreement contradicts Georgian citizens’ willpower expressed at the Referendum in 2003 and therefore, its implementation by the Parliament will be illegal and unconstitutional.     Presidential order #428 of September 2, 2003 on appointment of the referendum provides: “Following issue shall be submitted at the referendum: “Do you agree with reducing the number of members of Parliament and setting a limit of no more than 150? ”. The referendum was held on November 2, 2003. 1904 105 citizens participated in the election. The absolute majority of the electors (1590 000 persons)  voted in favor of decreasing the number.   On February 23, 2005 Parliament passed a constitutional amendment to Article 49 downsizing the number of MPs to 100 members elected by proportional system and 50 - elected by majoritarian system.

2011-07-04 06:31 See more

Opinions on the government proposals for improving Election Environment

On June 27, 2011 five political parties signed the agreement proposed by the governing party. The document entails pending activities for improving election legislation. We, “Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association”, “International Transparency -Georgia” and “International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy” – organizations actively observing ongoing negotiations on the development of election environment, welcome advances in that direction, yet we should emphasize that submitted agreement, supported by certain opposition parties, cannot fully guarantee fair and free elections.    Like our previous statements, we highlight that problematic issues of election legislation should be considered and addressed comprehensively, insofar as their partial regulation will not ensure creation of fair and competitive election environment in the country. Imposition of preliminary limitations as though no other issue will be considered except already submitted ones is impermissible, since the document does not fully address certain major issues such as formation of election administrations, limitations in application of administrative resources, improvement of the political parties’ funding system, creation of financial monitoring mechanisms and so on. Furthermore, proposed regulations do not guarantee eradication of the deficiencies in election legislation. 

2011-07-01 10:36 See more

Working group meeting on improving legislative basis in terms of fight against ill treatment

On June 30, 2011 at 11.00 in Hotel “Ambassadori” the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association  arranged a working group meeting for improving legislative basis in terms of fight against ill treatment. The event was held with participation of local and international NGOs and state agencies.  At the meeting GYLA proposed legislative amendments. The draft intends to identify legislative deficiencies and offer alternative mechanisms for the purpose of intensifying the fight against ill-treatment. Submitted legislative amendments entail the following important issues:   1.Effective investigation on the facts of ill treatment and application of a special legal regime for a victim – granting them extra rights;    2.Doctor /Expert’s right to access without special authorization for the detained; 3.Impartiality of investigation; 4.4.Granting extra  rights to the public defender and the members of special prevention group with a view to obtain evidences in a timely manner. The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association plans to submit for consideration the proposed  amendments to the Interagency Council against Ill Treatment.      

2011-06-30 13:44 See more

Statement of Georgian Civil Society Representatives

The Government of Georgia has declared the country’s integration with European Union (EU) as one of its major foreign policy goals that would bring Georgia political and economic stability, development and welfare. We, the undersigned, fully subscribe to this approach and to the extent possible contribute to Georgia’s approximation to EU standards. Unfortunately, representatives of the Georgian Government at times make statements that discredit European integration process among the citizens. For example, several days ago, one of the Government representatives stated that the price hike on meat that has been observed recently on the Georgian market is a consequence of European integration process. During the past several years, the Government of Georgia has been trying to initiate official negotiations on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). This issue was brought to an agenda by the Georgian government. The DCFTA foresees both the abolition of trade barriers and approximation of economic activity standards to those of the EU. If implemented properly, this should facilitate export of Georgian production to the European Union and contribute to increased foreign direct investments. More importantly, by introducing the European standards, the rights of Georgian citizens will be better protected and the standard of living in the country will be improved.

2011-06-28 15:05 See more

The Ministry of Interior satisfied the journalists’ administrative complaint

Legal Protection Center for Media under the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association provides legal aid to Nino Mikiashvili – the reporter of the media union “Obiektivi”.  On 27 May 2011 the journalist applied to the Ministry of Interior claiming information on the riot police that participated in dispersing opposition rally on 26 May 2011. FOI officer of the Ministry of Interior did not react on the application.   With the assistance of Media Legal Protection Center Nino Mikiashvili appealed FOI officer’s omission. On June 10, 2011 she applied to the Ministry of Interior with administrative complaint claiming to impose on FOI officer disclosure of the requested information.  On 27 June 2011, administrative complaint was examined at the oral hearing in the Ministry of Interior.   The lawyer of the Legal Protection Center for Media represented Nino Mikiashvili’s interests before the state agency. FOI officer of the Ministry confessed that he is obliged to disclose the information and in the nearest future he will submit requested information to the journalist.

2011-06-28 06:48 See more