The Georgian Probation Service was established in 2001 and became a separate department of the Ministry of Justice. Since October 2010, the Agency is a member of CEP and has taken the initiative to organize an international conference in Batumi, Georgia. The event aimed to stimulate the exchange of best practices in probation between Georgia and Europe.
Entering the international stage
Scene of the conference was the harbour city of Batumi at the coast of the Black Sea, where approximately 40 Georgian, European and American guests convened on 25 to 27 March 2011. The Conference was opened by Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, Minister of Corrections, Probation and Legal Assistance. Among guests were other representatives from the Georgian government. Head of the Division of International and Public Relations and IT Technologies of National Probation Agency Sofia Tutisani elaborates on the Georgian’s intentions. “In 2010 the National Probation Service became a legal entity of public law and is a part of the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance. As a relatively young service, the Agency is very curious to learn about practices in Europe. We also wanted to present our system to others. It is for these reasons that we have asked experts to come to our offices and give presentations.”
“We were very glad that CEP President Marc Ceron was present,” says Sofia Tutisani, “as well as other CEP Experts. In fact, everyone’s contribution was greatly appreciated. Particularly the discussion of themes such as community sentences, rehabilitation and electronic monitoring were very interesting. So not only the discussions, but also organizing this conference was a learning experience in itself.”
Not afraid to try something new
The Georgian National Probation Agency, along with its Ministry are developing in very fast and there is something that can be learned from that, too. One of the presenters was Rait Kuuse, consultant in the field of probation, and since 2009 working as Key-expert on Probation for the EU project on capacity building in the rule of law in Georgia. “In the years I have been in Georgia, I saw how the basis for good probation services was created. The speed and they way the Agency has applied itself to its task is remarkable. The Georgians are not afraid of solutions that are new to them. This is something other European countries can learn from.”
The system, however, has a long way to go. The case load is very high and the resources are limited. How can the Agency go forward? In Rait Kuuse’s view, the membership to CEP can help the process. “This conference,” concludes Rait Kuuse, “is an opportunity for the Agency to pro-actively acquire knowledge and to face the challenge. Georgia has to prioritize what has to be done first.”
CEP was also consulted in the preparations of the conference and Marc Ceron featured in the Georgian media. When a local TV station reported on the conference, Mr. Ceron expressed his positive impression of the conference.