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European Commission - Press release
EU increases its support to the Criminal Justice Reform process in Georgia
Brussels, 29 February – Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and Vice-Prime Minister of Georgia and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration, Giorgi Baramidze, signed a financing agreement for a new programme of support to criminal justice reform in Georgia in Brussels today.
The programme is designed to strengthen the rule of law and human rights in Georgia, in line with the country's own international commitments. This will be done by promoting restorative justice, improving prison conditions, or offering alternatives to imprisonment, such as a community work or early release.
Commissioner Füle said: "Georgia has made significant progress in reforming its Criminal Justice System in the recent years. This new programme aims to build on what Georgia has achieved so far with our support; helping to reduce the prison population and further increase human rights. I am pleased to see that it will also cut down the number of long prison sentences for young people who committed minor crimes, offering them instead alternatives such as community service, vocational training or education."
The programme aims to build on the results already achieved in the course of the previous support the EU has granted to Georgia in the criminal justice sector. The three-year programme, launched today, seeks to achieve five main objectives:
To carry out sound criminal justice policies and practices in line with Council of Europe standards;
To continue reforms of juvenile justice in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
To improve the conditions of convicted prisoners in line with European standards, particularly regarding overcrowding, living standards, healthcare and legal safeguards;
To support the Probation Service on the rehabilitation and reconciliation of probationers, and by a broader adoption of non-custodial measures;
To improve access to justice for the citizens of Georgia through a stronger Legal Aid Service and ensuring the independence of the Public Defender's Office;
The most relevant national authorities and civil society groups will be involved in the reform process.
In their bilateral meeting, Mr Füle and Mr Baramidze also discussed the recent developments and progress made in the EU-Georgia relations, including the need to pursue the reforms, the imminent start of negotiations on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and the way ahead in the area of mobility. Furthermore, they took stock of activities within the framework of the Eastern Partnership as a specific Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The EU has made considerable contributions to the criminal justice system reform in Georgia through various projects set up to strengthen key justice sector institutions, by providing expertise on legal and structural reforms and more importantly, through a structured policy dialogue with the Georgian Government on Criminal Justice reforms.
Since 2008, the EU has provided more than €20 million to the Criminal Justice System and the Ombudsman in Georgia, out of which €16 million have already been channelled through a Sector Budget Support Programme on Criminal Justice, complemented with additional technical assistance.
The total cost of the programme is estimated at €18 million.
For more information:
Peter Stano (+32 2 295 74 84)
Anca Paduraru (+32 2 296 64 30)