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With More than 100 Lawyers Jailed, the Republic of Georgia Bar Horrified at Persecution
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The bar association in the tiny Caucasian Republic of Georgia is crying for help from the international community following rabid persecution of lawyers, even for nothing more than defending clients against government interests. More than 100 lawyers involved in defending people, in what government officials term as ‘sensitive’ cases, have been jailed in the country.

Last week, the plight of Georgian lawyers was highlighted at the Council of Bars and Law Societies (CCBE) in Brussels.

  
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In one highlighted case, a 21-year-old female lawyer was sent to jail on trumped up charges, just because the government prosecutor had an enmity with the family. The mother of the victim is also a lawyer, and her father a retired judge.

The 21-year-old Ivelashvili was sent to jail over charges that she had taken about 85 Euros from a client without providing service. This happened within two weeks of her joining the bar, even though the prosecutor was unable to produce any evidence, and the victim denied the charge.

Intense pressure from professional organizations and protests from human rights organizations led to her conviction being annulled after she had already spent three years in prison.

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Zaza Khatiashvili, the Georgian bar association president, told Human Rights House last year, that since Eduard Shevardnadze had been removed from office by the ‘Rose Revolution,’ at least 140 lawyers, including 18 women have been sent to prison.

Khatiashvili said that Georgia has arrested more lawyers than even Russia or Belarus. “Most of the arrested lawyers are convicted either for protesting at the torture and inhuman treatment of their clients or for winning a sensitive case in which the government has a particular interest,” he added.



With Georgia maneuvering to join the European Union and NATO, the human rights situation in the country has come under greater scrutiny.



 

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