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USAID RULE OF LAW PROGRAM
USAID სამართლის უზენაესობის პროგრამა

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30 Nov - 01 Dec, 2022

USAID Rule of Law Program Opens Rule of Law Hub in Kutaisi

The USAID Rule of Law Program is creating Regional Rule of Law Hubs to strengthen people-centered justice in Georgia and to support individual judges, attorneys and other stakeholders to enhance their independence so as to strengthen society’s trust towards the judiciary. 

The USAID Rule of Law Program launched a Regional Hub in Kutaisi by hiring a resident attorney who will be based in Kutaisi, Ana Shalamberidze. Ms. Shalamberidze has experience working with civil society organizations, the Georgian Bar Association, and the Supreme Court of Georgia. In late-November and early-December, Ms. Shalamberidze and other USAID Rule of Law Program members met with key regional stakeholders, including: Zestaponi District Court, Zestaponi and Kutaisi Legal Aid Service Bureaus, Georgian Bar Association in Kutaisi, Kutaisi City Court, Kutaisi Court of Appeals, and local journalists and NGO representatives. 

During the meetings, Rule of Law Program Manager at USAID/Caucasus Rusudan Tabatadze highlighted the significance of the US-Georgia partnership over the last 30 years and its role in developing strong democratic institutions and the judicial system in Georgia. 

“The Kutaisi Rule of Law Hub will ensure increased access to justice at the local level and implement actions relevant to the specific needs of judges and other legal professionals in the Imereti region” – said Giorgi Chkheidze, USAID Rule of Law Program Chief of Party. 

The acting President of the Zestaponi District Court and the Presidents of Kutaisi City Court and Kutaisi Court of Appeals expressed their gratitude to USAID for its support to the Georgian judiciary and acknowledged the importance of experience exchanges between Georgian and American legal professionals. 

One discussion was devoted to the quality of the justice system and measuring the performance of courts and case distribution. Court users are concerned about case backlogs at the local courts and believe a shortage of judges does not allow the judiciary to cope with the large number of civil and administrative cases. To tackle this issue, the Rule of Law Program will invite U.S. judges to advise their Georgian colleagues on how to solve challenges related to judicial administration. The participating stakeholders expressed an interest in organizing roundtable discussions on legal issues with the participation of shadowing U.S. judges, Georgian judges, and other legal professionals. The participants also expressed interest in the Kutaisi Regional Hub’s plan to implement student mentoring programs in partnership with Akaki Tsereteli Kutaisi State University. 

USAID Rule of Law program Community Engagement Advisor Dr. Tim Bunjevac, assisted by Mariam Gobronidze, Community Engagement Specialist at the Rule of Law Program, shared practices on court-community engagement in Europe and around the world with the Program’s Imereti-based partners. Dr. Bunjevac suggested future activities that can contribute to increasing the public’s understanding of the courts system and how to use it. 

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