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USAID RULE OF LAW PROGRAM
USAID სამართლის უზენაესობის პროგრამა

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02 Nov 2022

Monitoring the Right to Fair Trial by the PDO

On November 2, 2022, representatives of local and international state and non-state organizations gathered to hear an analysis defining the judicial monitoring mechanism of the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) in Georgia. The analysis was prepared by the USAID Rule of Law Program’s long-term international expert Jaroslaw Gwizdak. 

The expert reviewed existing best practices of court monitoring mechanisms and conducted meetings with relevant stakeholders, and as a result developed the strategy and mechanism for the PDO’s court monitoring efforts. The monitoring will be based on three fundamental principles: improvement of the judicial protection of civil rights and freedoms related to the State's obligations under the European Code of Human Rights; identification of areas for improvement in the functioning of the justice system and people-centered justice; and enhancing citizens' awareness on their rights and the role of courts in protecting these rights in “everyday cases.”

Gwizdak believes that the PDO’s mandate should cover all aspects of a fair trial and that the PDO is empowered to monitor issues such as whether the trial is conducted within a reasonable time, whether the parties have equal access to materials needed to present their case, and how the judge or panel of judges was appointed.

"It is important that the question of how the Public Defender’s Office carries out its monitoring should not depend on an individual, in particular on the person of the Public Defender. It is important that this is an institutionally-established practice and that this institutional memory and sustainability is maintained. We think that the work done by Judge Gwizdak is vastly important for the Public Defender’s Office as it enables the institution to have a special methodology of our mandate and international standards.” – said Nino Lomjaria, Public Defender of Georgia. 

Rusudan Tabatadze, Rule of Law Project Management Specialist at the USAID/Caucasus Democracy, Rights and Governance Office, reiterated USAID’s support to the PDO and said that strengthening the role and the mandate of the PDO is among the long list of USAID’s priorities, along with the development of the justice system, promotion of human rights protection, and development of democratic society and institutions in Georgia. 

Gwizdak arrived in Georgia in July and spent four months conducting research and informational meetings with representatives of the PDO, local NGOs, and international organizations. He studied the judicial environment of Georgia, the legal framework of the PDO in relation to the justice system, and developed an internal strategy and mechanism for the PDO to carry out its monitoring of the realization of the right to a fair trial. 

The expert will soon finalize his work on a court monitoring mechanism manual for the PDO, which will be followed by a training for PDO representatives on implementing the monitoring in practice. 

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