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Georgia: EU Deploys 'Rule of Law' Mission

  • Ahto Lobjakas

The European Union this week will formally open its first-ever "rule of law" mission to a non-EU country. The mission will see eight EU experts placed in key Georgian ministries and institutions. The mission's head, French judge Sylvie Pantz, said the group's aim is to advise Georgia on reforming its judiciary, criminal law, police, and penitentiary systems.

Brussels, 19 July 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The reputation of Sylvie Pantz, the head of the EU's "rule of law" mission to Georgia, will precede her as she arrives in Tbilisi on 19 July.

Having served 20 years in France as a prosecutor and a judge, Pantz has had an impressive international career. In the 1990s, she spent four years heading the investigating division at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Pantz then became the top UN judicial official in postwar Kosovo, and went on to sit on an international judicial panel overseeing Bosnia's judicial reforms.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on 16 July, Pantz said her mission in Georgia will be similar -- to advise the authorities on judicial reforms.

"The purpose of this mission, which I am very happy to lead, and which was requested by the Georgian people -- and this is very important -- is to help them find their way in the middle of all these ideas, expertise, initiatives [currently flowing into Georgia from abroad] in order for them to draft their strategy for their future [in regard] to the judicial field, the judicial domain," Pantz said.
The mission consists of senior EU experts who will be spending a year in Georgia.


The EU mission to Georgia is historic in two respects. It is the first "rule of law" mission the bloc has undertaken, and is also the first time the EU has tested the civilian crisis management capabilities that form part of its defense and security policy.

The mission is small, but consists of senior EU experts who will be spending a year in Georgia. At least two will come from new member states -- one from Lithuania and from Latvia.

The experts will be placed at key ministries, as well as the Supreme Court, the Tbilisi District Court, the Tbilisi Prosecutor's Office, the public defender's office and at Georgia's judicial council.

Pantz said on 16 July that the mission will take an in-depth look at the functioning of law enforcement structures in Georgia.

"[The mission] will be starting [with] the laws, the criminal procedure law, the institutions, the judges -- how they [could] achieve the independence of their judges, including the level of salary for the judges," Pantz said. "[It will also look at] the prosecution officials, the structure of the prosecution, as well as the lawyers, the experts, the forensic [experts] -- [and] everyone who [is active in] the judicial field."

Pantz stressed that she will not make an attempt to force an external, ready-made system on Georgia.

"As I explained to [the Georgian authorities] -- and they were very pleased -- it won't be my system, it won't be my French system, it won't be [anybody else's]," Pantz said. "It will be their system. And I think it is very important. In each of the missions I have participated in [previously], it looked like international members and actors [wanted] to impose their own laws. This is just ridiculous. [Georgia] needs to find their own [way]. They have a system. They need to take [account] of their traditions, their history, their [human resources], their suffering -- all the influences that created [that] state."

However, Pantz said, she will be recommending aspects of another country's judicial reform program -- that enacted by Lithuania in 1998.

EU officials said on 16 July that no other former Soviet republic has expressed interest in hosting a similar "rule of law" mission.
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