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Foreign experts praise Georgia’s Juvenile Code

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 17
Georgia’s new Juvenile Code was discussed several days ago, with delegates from seven different nations composed of foreign experts were familiarized with the positive approaches offered by the new amendments brought into the Juvenile Justice Code this year.

Georgia’s Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani, the head of the Supreme Court of Georgia Nino Gvenetadze, United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) officials, a Judge to the Special Court for Sierra Leone and an expert on family law Renate Winter, Georgian officials and representatives from Ukraine, Armenia, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Belarus were participating in the one-day conference.

Minister of Justice Tsulukiani stressed that through the code, the Georgian Government has established the best European standards in terms of juvenile convicts, wherein arrests would be carried out in extreme situations.

On this note, Tsulukiani stated that from January, Georgia will use a specialised staff of prosecutors, judges and lawyers working on the cases of juvenile convicts.

“We are giving juveniles the right to make mistake. Our efforts to help young offenders will be improved with the support of psychologists, social workers and relevant service staff,” Tsulukiani said. She then thanked Georgia’s Supreme Court chairperson, UNICEF and other foreign and local bodies for supporting the adoption of the Code.

The head of Georgia’s Supreme Court, Nino Gvenetadze, stressed that the Code was “in the best interests of juveniles,” and was a good mixture of European legislation with Georgian legal traditions and experience.

The chief UNICEF representative to Georgia, Sascha Graumann, stressed that the “code was innovative” with the potential to guarantee fair and just results.

However, he mentioned that the practical implementation of the code would also be crucial.

The same viewpoint was shared by Winter, who stated that the Georgian Juvenile Code was a “very modern document, based on international principles and legislation”.

“The code is in line with all international standards, principles and rights,” the judge said.

Under the new regulations (which were adopted in June this year), all criminal cases in Georgia involving minors will be handled by police officers, investigators, prosecutors and judges who specialise in juvenile offending.

The main changes concerned a young offender's criminal record and the length of prison sentences.

According to the new law, young offenders will now have a reduced pre-trial detention period from 60 to 40 days. A young offender's convict status will be removed as soon as their sentence period has finished. The period of being classed as an offender will be extended up to six months.

Changes in penalties also took place under the new law. Imprisonment was replaced by house arrest; imprisonment as a form of punishment will be used only when it is strictly necessary, particularly for severe crimes where a youth is sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10-15 years imprisonment. Under the new law, life imprisonment for juveniles has been abolished.