17 January 2022,   07:35
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NGOs react to the commencement of parliamentary hearings of Supreme Court judicial candidates

The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary considers the commencement of parliamentary hearings of Supreme Court candidates unjustified.

“The existing rules for the selection and appointment of judges do not safeguard the competition from party influences. The results of the previous selection processes proved that candidates are not assessed based on merit and professional integrity. In addition, the High Council of Justice has violated the statutory deadline for the nomination of candidates.

On November 22, 2021, the Parliament announced that four candidates nominated by the High Council of Justice would be interviewed on November 25-26. Currently there are five vacant positions at the Supreme Court. Three parallel competitions, announced back in autumn 2020, are underway.[1] It should be noted that three of the candidates nominated by the Council to the Parliament (Nino Sandodze, Tamar Okropiridze, Tea Dzimistarashvili) participated in the previous competition (announced based on the October 7, 2020 Decree), but were not shortlisted.[2] If the Parliament does not appoint all candidates nominated by the Council,[3] the latter is allowed to select candidates with the next best results (based on the existing ranking, without re-conducting interviews) within two weeks from the Parliamentary voting. However, the Council clearly violated the deadline by nominating these candidates on November 4, 2021.[4] The 2-week term for such nominations started back on July 12, 2021 (when the Parliament did not appoint all candidates nominated by the Council).[5]

Apart from the above-mentioned procedural problems, the process of interviewing and evaluating Supreme Court judicial candidates in this competition clearly lacked legitimacy and, as in previous years, was flawed. In particular, the assessments made by the Council members leave the impression of inconsistency, unequal treatment and pro forma approach towards the candidates.[6]

In addition to the fundamental criticism of the current composition of the Council and the public distrust towards it, we see a problem in the Parliament making decisions on this issue by a simple majority vote, which does not require a political consensus on candidates. Consequently, before the substantial reform of the court system takes place and there is a commitment to make such decisions at the Parliament based on a political consensus, the appointment of Supreme Court judges will not serve the interests of justice. Quite the contrary, it will contribute to further strengthening political influences over the Supreme Court.

Considering all the above, we call on the Parliament of Georgia to refrain from appointing Supreme Court judges until a systemic justice reform takes place and a political consensus for deciding such issues becomes mandatory”, - reads the statement of the Coalition.

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