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A delegation from Uzbekistan has toured Georgia’s courts and legal institutions to learn how the nation has advanced in international rule of law and democracy indexes, and applied reforms to create a more ethical and open justice system.

The ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project, implemented by USAID, UNDP and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, has conducted a study tour to Georgia’s courts and legal institutions from October 2 to 10. This delegation of ten leading legal professionals from Uzbekistan included judges of the Supreme Court, and representatives of the Center for Strategy Development and the Tashkent State University of Law.

The study tour reviewed the reforms implemented in Georgia to increase the nation’s rankings in the Economic Freedom, Doing Business and Rule of Law indexes, while it also studied planned future reforms. It is intended that the lessons learned during the study will be applied within Uzbekistan’s on-going justice reform process.

“This study tour we’ve taken part in has been comprehensive, covering Georgia’s experience in building access to justice, countering corruption, making sure court decisions are implemented, and establishing impartial and effective means for alternative dispute settlements,” said tour participant judge Gulnora Mirzaeva.

“Georgia has been an ideal destination for us because it ranks highly in indexes covering business, criminal and civil law, while its also in the upper middle-income group of countries, and has transitioned from a soviet to a democratic system of governance. As such, the country’s experiences are directly relatable to those of Uzbekistan.”

Over eight days, the tour visited Georgia’s Supreme Court, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, High Council of Justice, Ministry of Justice, High School of Judges, National Bureau of Enforcement, House of Justice, Legal Aid Service, and the Tbilisi City Court.

These visits have reviewed the operations of Georgia’s civil, criminal and administrative courts, the means used to improve the financial independence of the nation’s judicial system and judges, and the methods applied for appointing and reappointing judges, preventing corruption, enhancing the qualifications of judges and court staff, and providing free legal aid to citizens.

The tour also included a meeting with UNDP Georgia’s Mediation and Arbitration project, undertaken jointly with the EU, which has sought to apply fair and efficient alternative dispute resolution practices for resolving commercial disputes and improving the national business environment.

“Getting this first-hand experience of how Georgia has developed its justice system to focus primarily on the needs of its citizens, particularly by developing alternative dispute resolution methods for resolving business conflicts, and broadening the means by which citizens can access justice, is going to be greatly applicable in further further building reform in Uzbekistan,” said tour participant chairperson of the Khorezm regional court on criminal cases Bobur Umarov.

“Applying these lessons to Uzbekistan’s circumstances is going to bring us closer to achieving both international and national targets in improving rule of law and access to justice.”

The event’s participants will follow up the tour with high-level discussions of the means by which the lessons gathered in Georgia can be applied within Uzbekistan, while the report ‘Review of Georgia’s judicial reforms, contributing to the nation’s improvement in international rankings’ will also be developed.

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