PDO Interns Support Constitutional Lawsuits to Advance Human Rights
Luka Gogua and Luka Nishnianidze, both third-year law students at Tbilisi Free University, have played a vital role in supporting constitutional lawsuits during their six-month internships at the Strategic Litigation Division of the Public Defender's Office (PDO), with the support of the USAID Rule of Law Program.
"I have always found human rights and constitutional justice to be an incredibly fascinating field of law. When I learned about the internship opportunity at the PDO, I didn't hesitate for a moment and immediately submitted my application. I was confident that I would have the chance to work on crucial human rights challenges in the country, receive guidance from leading specialists in the field, develop professionally, and contribute to the work of Georgia's constitutional body." – says Luka Gogua.
He describes one particularly interesting lawsuit he worked on, which focused on the rights of patients in an inpatient psychiatric facility. "At the Constitutional Court, the Public Defender raised concerns about the deeply troubling practice of forcibly treating patients who had voluntarily admitted themselves." Another pressing issue for him was the "limitation on the PDO's access to investigative materials in an ongoing criminal case." Luka Gogua hopes that if the lawsuit he prepared is successful, the Public Defender will gain greater authority to monitor the legality of the activities conducted by investigative bodies and the prosecutor's office.
Luka Nishnianidze highlights one of the most significant cases he worked on, which involved a constitutional lawsuit concerning individuals with disabilities: "The law prevented them from receiving both the social benefits package and household subsidies concurrently, even when they were eligible for both types of social assistance independently," he explains.
"I found the process of developing arguments and researching the best international practices in these cases to be truly fascinating. One case involved challenging the denial of citizenship by the President of Georgia, while the other focused on the restriction of the right to assembly for individuals who hold positions within various state bodies," says Luka Nishnianidze. He emphasizes that these cases are important not only for the individuals directly involved but also for the overall development of legal and social practices.
Enhancing access to justice through strategic litigation stands as a top priority for the USAID Rule of Law Program. In alignment with this objective, the program supported the implementation of a paid internship program within the Strategic Litigation Division of the PDO.