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Irakli Kobakhidze, Georgian Parliament Speaker; Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia; and Niels Scott, Head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Georgia, joined the opening of the Legal Aid Service headquarters on 30 January 2018. The event was attended by representatives of the Georgian Parliament, Government, International Organizations, Civil Society and the Media.
“The Legal Aid Service assists over 30,000 people every year and is the largest legal aid provider in Georgia. With the renewed facilities in place, it is now fully equipped to offer high quality service to its beneficiaries and effective support to the lawyers”, Irakli Kobakhidze, Georgian Parliament Speaker, said.
Meliton Benidze, Legal Aid Service Director, stressed that state-funded legal support to the vulnerable is an integral part of the right to justice and fair trial. He also noted increased opportunities created by the new infrastructure.
“Our new administrative premises ensure effective support to the lawyers, such as training, monitoring and evaluation, and strategic development. The new website provides user-friendly information to all legal aid beneficiaries, including the language minority groups and people with disabilities,” he said.
The opening of the Legal Aid Service’s administrative office in Tbilisi and its new website completes the renovation cycle which included 12 Legal Aid Service bureaus and 7 consultation centres all over Georgia. Most of this work has been accomplished with the support from the European Union (EU) and UNDP, under the wider EU-funded programme EU4Justice.
Speaking at the opening of the Legal Aid Service headquarters, Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, reiterated EU’s continued support to reforming and developing the system of justice in Georgia.
“The European Union supports the justice sector of Georgia for a long time and in many ways. At the core of our assistance is the goal of providing access to justice for all those who need it most, including vulnerable and marginalised groups,” Ambassador Herman said.
The comprehensive EU4Justice Programme, with a current EU budget allocation of EUR 50 million, is a cooperation framework between Georgia and the European Union in the justice sector that includes cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, prosecutorial, judiciary and penitentiary institutions. The Legal Aid Service is a state-funded legal aid provider and is accountable to the Parliament of Georgia.