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USAID RULE OF LAW PROGRAM
USAID სამართლის უზენაესობის პროგრამა

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02 Feb 2023

Legal Clinic for Combating Violence Against Women Established at Tbilisi State University

A new legal clinic for combating violence against women has been established at Tbilisi State University (TSU) with the support of the USAID Rule of Law Program. 

This is a university-based People-Centered Justice project that will involve students overseeing the operation of the local courts in cases involving violence against women. The first stage involves developing a syllabus for the program and training students on cases involving violence against women. The second stage will involve the monitoring of such cases at Tbilisi City Court and recording data from the observations. At the final stage, the project team will analyze the results of the case monitoring and produce a report that will be presented to a wider audience. The project forms part of a broader initiative by the Rule of Law Program to promote the engagement of multiple sectors of civil society, including universities, in monitoring the justice system. The TSU clinic will provide an important contribution to this process because it aims to enhance the transparency of court decisions while supporting the fight against violence against women.

On January 31, 2023, a working meeting was held at TSU, which was attended by eight judges (including criminal and administrative law judges of Tbilisi and Rustavi City Courts and Tbilisi Court of Appeals who hear cases involving violence against women), as well as the head of the clinic, eight Master's students involved in the Clinic, the Dean of the Faculty of Law, and representatives of the USAID Rule of Law Program. 

The judges shared their experiences with the clinic’s students and discussed challenges that arise in this area in practice. For example, the judges highlighted the issues of the victim's right to remain silent, the victim's attitude towards the perpetrator, the standard of proof required to convict defendants in cases of violence against women, and the specific issues arising in cases involving sexual harassment.

All the judges who attended the meeting expressed their willingness to cooperate with the TSU clinic and students participating in the project. The participants agreed on different formats of communication and the need to conduct future meetings. The next meeting will be held in the coming months after the students commence monitoring court cases involving violence against women. At the next meeting, the students will share the intermediate results of their monitoring with the judges and receive feedback from them on the students’ concerns and conclusions.

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