Public participation in the judiciary is essential for promoting transparency, accountability, and legitimacy. It empowers citizens to hold judges accountable, instills trust in the legal system, and guarantees the inclusion of diverse perspectives.
To enhance public participation and the monitoring of court processes, the Georgia Court Watch, with support from the USAID Rule of Law Program, enlisted the efforts of 76 volunteers across Georgia. Over a period of 10 months, these volunteers attended 1,341 court proceedings and meticulously documented their observations in a comprehensive report. On September 27, the Georgia Court Watch, with support from the USAID Rule of Law Program, unveiled the findings of a report. The event commenced with opening remarks from Rusudan Tabatadze, the Rule of Law Project Management Specialist, Democracy, Rights and Governance Office USAID/Caucasus, and Nazi Janezashvili, Director of Court Watch.
"The report encompass both the court's administrative operations and procedural justice, which directly impact transparency and accountability. Among these issues were delayed commencement of court sessions, session postponements due to technical glitches or organizational matters, less-than-optimal clarity in court processes, and verdicts/decisions that were not easily comprehensible to citizens," observed Nazi Janezashvili, Director of Georgia's Court Watch.
The organization's legal analyst, Megi Shamatava, presented the findings of the volunteers' observations to the participants and highlighted that "most judges attentively listened to the parties and explained legal jargon in language accessible to all parties involved." Nevertheless, there were instances where judges were inadequately informed and unprepared for the case at hand. Although judges generally adhered to ethical norms and engaged constructively with courtroom attendees, there were isolated occurrences of judges displaying rudeness or adopting an aggressive stance towards the parties involved.
Keti Gachechiladze, a legal analyst with Georgia's Court Watch, noted, "Volunteers identified the extended duration of legal proceedings and the jurisdiction surrounding sentencing as significant issues."
The report presentation drew attendance from judges, lawyers, politicians, representatives of international organizations, members of civil society, and the media. The event concluded with the recognition of volunteers who actively contributed to the monitoring of court proceedings, with certificates awarded in appreciation of their efforts.