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Lawyers Joined New Union of Lawyers in Kutaisi

Shorena Kakabadze, Kutaisi

 Manana Kobakhidze: “When a lawyer is detained or arrested in the country, it should become the topic of serious discussion; however, unfortunately Bar Association cannot manage it today.”

 Supporters from Kutaisi also joined the new union of lawyers – “Lawyers of Georgia for Independent Profession”. On December 12, at the meeting in Kutaisi lawyers spoke about the problems in their profession. They said the main goal of creating new union of lawyers is to make their profession stronger. The founders of the Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession are famous lawyers: Davit Asatiani, Dimitri Gabunia, Manana Kobakhidze, Davit Lanchava, Roin Migriauli, Rusudan Pitava, Zurab Tabidze, Irakli Kandashvili, Akaki Chargeishvili and others.

Lawyers in Kutaisi spoke about inactivity and humiliated name of the Bar Association of Georgia. They said the inability of the Bar Association required establishment of new NGO.

“The Bar Association of Georgia has been working for many years but it has not turned into a strong and active organization. It is the organization which was created because membership of it was obligatory under the law in order to start advocacy. We are all entitled under the law to be members of the Bar Association but today it is organization for what we pay membership-fee. Otherwise, we cannot understand the sense of its functioning. We want lawyers to have their professional, strong entity which will protect their interests first of all,” said lawyer Manana Kobakhidze.

Participants said at the meeting that there are 4 000 members in the Bar Association among whom are many non-active lawyers. Consequently, it cannot protect the interests of professional lawyers what seriously hinders their activities.

“As a working lawyer, I have never felt any support from the association. Just the opposite, they have hindered my professional activities mostly. There is a warrant estimated by the Bar Association of Georgia which enables lawful protection of the prisoner. It is a stamped document which does not necessarily need a seal but it should have a signature of the attorney who releases the warrant. Apparently, penitentiary detention settings of Georgia have different attitudes towards this document, which creates serious problems for me as a lawyer. For example, why should not I be able to enter Khoni district detention setting N 7 or Gldani prison in Tbilisi with this document if I do not face similar problem in other detention settings? It is interference in the competence of the Bar Association which does not react on similar violations unfortunately. If you file a complaint to the Bar Association, somebody might respond to it two months later. I will not exaggerate the situation by saying that it is the entity without any functions and nothing more,” said lawyer Ana Chapidze.

The accusations against the Bar Association of Georgia were grounded by concrete examples mentioned by the lawyers. Gocha Kilasonia said after lawyer Dali Sulakvelidze was convicted, her colleagues collected 135 signatures to appeal to the Mercy Commission. “The list could not reach the commission because it disappeared in the association. So, we are supported by the association like that. I can mention many similar examples.”

Lawyers spoke about the problem of fair trial. They said honorable and high-quality activities of the lawyers are directly connected with fair trial.

“When we speak about fair trial, we should not forget one of the reasons for the problem is that role and function of the lawyers is degraded in the country. Georgia needs strong lawyers without whom the court proceeding will fail. Furthermore, when a lawyer is detained or arrested in the country, it should become the topic of serious discussion; unfortunately, the Bar Association does not do it today. Our union, which is an NGO, will react on similar violations. Besides that, we intend to work in legislative changes too, which is urgently necessary in our country,” said Manana Kobakhidze, one of the founders of the Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession.

There are more than 500 lawyers in the new union. On December 20, the Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession intends to take part in the elections of the Bar Association with their own team. The lawyers of the new union hope they will influence further development of the association.

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