Analysis of the General Prosecutor’s Selection Process

News | Good Governance | Article 7 February 2020

 

Today, on February 7, the Prosecutorial Council of Georgia selected by secret ballot Irakli Shotadze as a candidate for the Prosecutor General of Georgia.

 

Selected candidate

 

On January 27, 2020, the Prosecutorial Council began the process of individual interviews with the candidates for the Prosecutor General of Georgia, which ended on February 5. After the interviews, the Council selected four candidates. In accordance with Article 16 of the Organic Law of Georgia on the Prosecution Service (hereinafter referred to as the Organic Law), the Council voted separately on the selected candidates. Irakli Shotadze, the candidate who was elected by secret ballot receiving 11 votes, should be submitted to the Parliament with appropriate justification by the Prosecutorial Council.

 

Irakli Shotadze resigned as Prosecutor General on May 31, 2018 amid widespread public outcry. Accordingly, IDFI considers that the decision of the Prosecutorial Council to select Irakli Shotadze as a candidate for the Prosecutor General will not contribute to public confidence in the Prosecutor's Office.

 

Transparency of the selection process and selection criteria

 

IDFI has been monitoring the selection process for the Prosecutor General actively and welcomes the prominent initiative by the Prosecutorial Council to broadcast live interviews and to ensure the publicity of audio recordings, which is a major step towards increasing the transparency of the process. At the same time, the shortcomings noted during the selection process for the Prosecutor General were declared on January 12. IDFI recalls that in order to ensure the transparency and fairness of the selection process of General Prosecutor, the detailed criteria for selection is necessary, because the organic law only provides for general criteria, which is not sufficient to properly eliminate subjective factors in the Council's decision-making.

 

According to Article 16 of the Organic Law, a candidate for the Prosecutor General must meet the following basic criteria: no previous conviction, higher legal education, high authority and at least 5 years of experience working as a prosecutor, criminal judge or lawyer or at least 10 years of experience in legal profession and recognition from academia or civil society organizations.

 

Given the lack of detailed criteria for selecting a General Prosecutor candidate, it is difficult to assess whether and to what extent Prosecutorial Council members were guided by the principles of fairness, impartiality and integrity, and by the candidates' professional and ethical knowledge, experience and skills.

 

Accordingly, IDFI recommends that the authorities, at legislative level, or the Prosecutorial Council, by ordinance, approve detailed criteria for the selection of the Prosecutor General, which should at least include the following components: integrity, independence, impartiality and competence. Each criterion must be explained and the Prosecutorial Council members must be provided with clear instructions of their use and assessment.

 

IDFI considers that without clearly identifying the selection procedure and criteria for the selection of Prosecutor General, it will be difficult to gain and maintain public confidence in the Prosecutor General and the Prosecutor's Office in general.

 

Ordinance of the Prosecutorial Council

 

In accordance with the Prosecutorial Council Ordinance #1,[1] compliance with the minimum legal requirements is verified at the initial stage - when registering as a candidate for the Prosecutor General. According to Article 2 of the Ordinance, in case of non-compliance with the requirements of the law, the Prosecutorial Council shall decide whether to withdraw from or keep in the list of candidates. This provision is in contradiction with the Organic Law, which clearly states that meeting the criteria set forth therein is necessary for the election of the Prosecutor General. Consequently, it is unclear why the Prosecutorial Council reserves the right to allow a person who fails to meet the minimum criteria set forth by law to participate in the selection process.

 

Gender issues in the selection process

 

At the same time, IDFI considers it necessary to focus on gender equality issues identified during the Prosecutorial Council meetings of the selection process. According to Article 19 of the Organic Law, at least a quarter of Prosecutor members of the Council (8 members) must be of different gender. It is noteworthy that only two women are represented in the current Council - the minimum number required by the organic law. It is also noteworthy that only two of the 15 Prosecutor General candidates who participated in the interviews were women.

 

On the one hand, it is welcomed that both women candidates for the Prosecutor General position were able to move on to the next stage of the selection process and, together with the other two candidates, were voted at the Prosecutorial Council meeting on February 6. On the other hand, attention should be paid to the lack of gender sensitivity identified among some Council members during the interviews. In particular, one of the Council members, who spoke about the tough work schedule of prosecutors, said the busy work schedule was particularly burdensome for women and referred to the chairwoman of the Council saying with four children to take care of, she had to also think about the work. IDFI considers that it is unacceptable for a member of the Prosecutorial Council to distribute stereotypical gender roles when one of the country's priorities is the fight against gender discrimination and the promotion of gender equality.

 

In addition, in order to increase the number of female employees in the Prosecutor's Office, one of the candidates for the position of General Prosecutor raised the issue of possibility to introduce gender quotas as a temporary measure. The candidate explained that between two persons of equal competence, it would be desirable for a woman to be given preference because of their scarcity within the prosecution service. One of the members of the Prosecutorial Council found this approach incomprehensible and described it as discrimination. IDFI is considered that some members of the Council lack information on this issue and stresses that the so-called Positive discrimination, which promotes a vulnerable / discriminated group, is a worldwide practice and aims to eliminate artificially created imbalances in order to promote equality. Given this, IDFI calls on the members of the Prosecutorial Council to be more cautious when addressing gender issues and not to further reinforce gender stereotypes.

 

Recommendations

 

 

IDFI recommends that the authorities approve detailed criteria for the selection of the Prosecutor General, which should at least include the following components: integrity, independence, impartiality and competence. Each criterion must be explained and the Prosecutorial Council members must be provided with clear instructions of their use and assessment.

 

IDFI calls on the Prosecutorial Council to review the Ordinance #1 and ensure its full compliance with the organic law.

 

IDFI calls on the members of the Prosecutorial Council to be more cautious when addressing gender issues and not to further reinforce gender stereotypes in the country.

 

 

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[1] Prosecutorial Council Ordinance #1 on approval of the General Prosecutor selection rule, article 2.

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