On January 22 of this year, a discussion took place in Marneuli regarding the accessibility of justice services in the Kvemo Kartli region. The participants included the Public Defender’s Office, non-governmental organizations, representatives of local political parties, and young civil society activists.
During the meeting, Mariam Orzhonia, the representative of the Analytical Department of the Public Defender’s Office, presented the preliminary findings of the research conducted by the Office on the availability of justice services in the Kvemo Kartli region.
It was highlighted that a significant challenge in terms of access to justice is the lack of knowledge of the Georgian language among representatives of ethnic minorities in the region. This language barrier hinders the independent application to the court and poses similar challenges in interactions with administrative bodies.
The importance of initiating the teaching of the Georgian language from the preschool period and ensuring a dual program in schools was underscored.
The discussion also touched upon the improvement of the 4+1 program, widely used by ethnic minorities in higher education. Orzhonia pointed out the low awareness among the population about available services, and the need for state structures to enhance public awareness.
The research revealed that the state strategy on minorities does not separately address the needs of minorities regarding access to the courts, signaling a potential area for improvement.
Participants actively discussed the necessity of enhancing the teaching of the Georgian language. They emphasized the importance of translating claim forms and essential documents in the court into minority languages, enabling citizens to understand current procedures. Instances were cited where individuals experienced significant property damage due to language barriers and the unavailability of interpreters.
Meeting attendees urged the speaker to convey all identified challenges directly to the public defender and to request the state to consider improving policies related to the integration of minorities, including access to justice.
Local media covered the meeting, with Radio Marneuli publishing a comprehensive article on the challenges faced by ethnic minorities in the court. 24news.ge also featured an article in Azerbaijani, addressing the discussed topic.
The discussion was initiated by non-governmental organizations “Prevention for Progress” and “Civil Engagement and Activism Center,” with financial support from the USAID Rule of Law Program.