Public Defender of Georgia Considers that Legislation Regulating Child’s Access to Court is Discriminatory
On March 5, 2018, the Public Defender addressed the Parliament and the Government of Georgia with a recommendation concerning the child’s right to apply to the court without discrimination.
According to the recommendation, the neutral rule in the Georgian legislation, which equally allows everyone to apply to the court, excludes children in some cases. Specifically, children under 14 cannot independently select judicial representatives, which creates a danger that they may remain beyond the jurisdiction. Children over 14 have the right to apply to the court independently; however, neither this regulation facilitates full realization of the child’s right to apply to the court. The practice of appointing a procedural representative by the court is ineffective, as by the law, the representative is involved at a later stage, while the juvenile needs lawyer’s aid at the stage of filing a claim, which should be ensured by the state given its positive obligation.
In order to resolve the issue, the Public Defender indicated that regulation of the issue of a representative by the court may serve as an additional leverage for children under 14. In particular, the court should assess the honesty of a procedural representative, his/her relationship with a child and professionalism. The court should also be entitled to appoint a procedural representative for a juvenile under age 14 by itself, when it considers that the child does not have a proper representative. In addition, in case of violation of the right, the procedures for directly applying to the court should be simplified for children and the court should appoint a procedural representative, who will prepare a claim and obtain relevant evidence.
In addition, the Public Defender considers it appropriate to authorize the court to appoint a procedural representative for children between the ages of 14 and 18, immediately after a simplified application is filed. The legislative defect may be eradicated by involving the Legal Aid Service in the procedural relations, which will require relevant amendments to the Law on Legal Aid.