The Public Defender and “Rights Georgia” published the Monitoring Report of the Interrogation of Female Victims of Domestic Violence at the Court17 November, 2021
On 17 November, the Public Defender of Georgia and “Rights Georgia” (NGO) published the results of the Monitoring of the Interrogation of Female Victims of Domestic Violence at the Court.
The online presentation of the Special Report has been attended by the representatives of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, embassies and international organizations, the academic field, and civil society. The participants were addressed with the welcoming speeches by the Deputy Public Defender – Eka Skhiladze, the Executive Director of “Rights Georgia” – Lado Mkervalishvili, and the Director of the Democracy, Rights and Governance Office at USAID/Georgia – Leah Kaplan.
The Special Report of the Public Defender and “Rights Georgia” is based on the results of the monitoring of legal proceedings in 30 criminal cases at Tbilisi and Rustavi City Courts during May-August, 2021 within the framework of which the Project researchers monitored the interrogation of female victims of domestic violence.
The monitoring led to the identification of the following main problems: the female victims of domestic violence are often interrogated in such an environment that does not prevent the secondary victimization of women. Female victims are not properly informed about their rights and available services as well as they are not provided with adequate legal assistance. Besides, the legal state is further deteriorated by the infrastructure of court buildings.
According to the Special Report, the increased risk of secondary victimization of a victim of domestic violence stems especially from an alleged perpetrator and his/her lawyer. In some instances where the questions and remarks of lawyers were irrelevant or incriminating, as well as offensive and degrading. It is noteworthy that the infrastructure in courts does not allow the prevention of physical or verbal communication between the female victim of violence and the alleged perpetrator or his/her relative. Besides, the Georgian criminal procedure legislation does not provide for the possibility for a female victim of violence to testify in the courtroom without the presence of an alleged perpetrator in order to prevent her secondary victimization and exertion of psychological impact on her.
There are serious challenges with regard to informing the female victims of violence about their rights and available services. More precisely, judges do not provide at all and/or provide only partially to female victims of violence the information about their rights and obligations, protection and support mechanisms to shield them from secondary victimization, the facilities for victims of violence, and available services there. Furthermore, Witness and Victim Coordinators and lawyers practically are not involved in the interrogation process apart from exceptional cases. An essential problem is also the fact that the Georgian criminal procedure legislation does not envisage the possibility of free legal aid for female victims of domestic violence.
Together with the challenges, the Special Report includes recommendations for the Parliament of Georgia, the Supreme Court, Prosecutor’s Office, Georgian Bar Association, and the Legal Aid Service that for the purposes of improving the legal state for female victims of domestic violence envisions legislative changes, training of professionals working in the justice system and improving the court infrastructure.
The Special Report has been developed in the framework of the Project – “Ensuring the Fair Trial for Female Victims of Violence through Monitoring of Interrogations during Criminal Proceedings and Advocacy Campaign”. The project is implemented by “Rights Georgia” in cooperation with the Public Defender of Georgia. The project is implemented with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Program “Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia” (PROLoG) implemented by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI).