Justice for All
Justice reform remains a challenge in Georgia. In the past 5 years the government has done much to improve the legal process; however there is still a long road ahead in terms of building up people’s trust in the legal system.
- The Legal Aid Service ensures legal assistance for the poor and disadvantaged
- Today the Legal Aid Service has 11 offices and 4 consultation centres throughout Georgia
- In 2010, the Legal Aid Service received more than 20,000 applications for legal advice and help
The establishment of the Legal Aid Service under the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia is one important step towards that goal.
The Legal Aid Service ensures legal assistance for the poor and disadvantaged. It reaches out to all citizens who cannot afford representation.
For the displaced and socially and economically vulnerable a public attorney is the only hope for a proper legal defence. Kakha Kisishvili from a small village near Gori had spent a year in police detention after being charged with theft. Facing a potential jail term of five years, he did not have access to a lawyer, for he could not afford one. Thanks to the Legal Aid Service, Kakha was able to retain a public lawyer who cleared him of all charges.
"I spent a year in jail, falsely accused because I could not afford a lawyer. Without free legal aid, I guess I would still be in jail, even though I did not commit the crime I had been accused of,” Kakha Kisishvili says.
Public lawyer Ketevan Gagoeva, who represented Kakha, discovered a number of flaws in the investigation process. She filed a motion requesting Kakha to be released from detention immediately.
"Kakha should have been questioned in the presence of his lawyer. Also, the evidence clearly showed that he was not involved in the theft. After I took on this case, I was able to clear him of all the charges,” says public Lawyer Ketevan Gagoeva.
UNDP Georgia is supporting the Georgian Legal Aid Service on numerous levels to become an effective and highly professional institution, to train lawyers across the country, and to inform and educate the public about their rights.
The assistance to the Legal Aid Service is part of the UNDP’s larger programme, which aims to boost reforms in Georgian judiciary, and to ensure the protection of human rights and access to justice for all.
Deputy Head of UNDP in Georgia Inita Paulovica stresses the importance of a state-funded legal aid system for national minority groups and for people affected by the conflict.
"UNDP helps open legal aid offices in the areas with significant minority population, and in regions with high concentration of the displaced. We also assist in raising professional standards of public attorneys. Our goal is to enable the Legal Aid Service to provide people with a lawyer – in civil, administrative and criminal cases,” she says.
Today the Legal Aid Service has 11 offices and 3 consultation centres throughout Georgia. This year alone, the Legal Aid Service received more than 20,000 applications for legal advice and help. For almost all of the applicants, Legal Aid was their last hope for a fair trial.
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