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USAID RULE OF LAW PROGRAM
USAID სამართლის უზენაესობის პროგრამა

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10 Jul 2023

Discussion on the Role of Judicial Associations in an Independent and Accountable Judiciary

On July 6, 2023, the Group of Independent Lawyers and Democracy Index - Georgia, with USAID Rule of Law Program support, organized an international online discussion on the crucial role of judicial associations in promoting an independent and accountable judiciary.

Forty-nine participants, including lawyers, judges, judiciary experts, and NGO representatives from Georgia and other countries, attended the meeting. The discussion provided a comprehensive overview of judicial associations in Europe and facilitated a dialogue on their significant impact.

The event was moderated by Madona Maisuradze, a judge at the Rustavi City Court. In her opening remarks, Judge Maisuradze emphasized the importance of judicial associations as integral components of the justice system. She highlighted that these associations bring together judges around common ideas and goals. In Georgia, two associations currently operate: the first, established in 1999, unites almost all judges, while the other, the Association of Women Judges, was founded in 2019. The primary purpose of these associations is to enhance the independence and accountability of the judiciary. Consequently, gaining insights from international speakers and understanding the European perspective on this matter was of great importance.

Simone Benvenuti, Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law at the University Roma Tre, provided an overview of the structure of judicial associations. Typically, the functions of these associations are not formalized by law but they play a crucial role in judicial governance. While the judicial associations’ interests are sectoral in nature, they are essential actors in shaping the judicial landscape. The nature of these associations may vary in terms of their objectives, structure, values, and membership types.

Jan Olszanowski, a judge at the district court of Poznań, and Silvio Roberto Vinceti, a researcher of Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, presented a historical overview and the current state of judicial associations in Poland and Italy, respectively. Iustitia, the largest association in Poland, boasts a membership of over 3,500 judges and has been particularly active in advocating against the restrictions faced by judges in Poland in 2020. Professor Olszanowski emphasized that one of the primary tasks of judicial associations is to evaluate legislative proposals and initiate legal actions to support an independent and efficient judiciary. However, it is crucial to acknowledge the potential risks associated with these associations, including the possibility of collusion with political powers.

Following the presentations, the participants discussed the state of judicial associations in Georgia, focusing on aspects such as funding sources and the dissemination of their activities to the public.

This discussion is part of an ongoing online talk series organized by the International Network of Judicial Reformers, which aims to share experiences from different countries. The network currently brings together 59 members from 23 countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the USA.

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