On May 11, 2017, the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) appointed 64 judges. Of them, five judges (former judges of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts) were appointed for life, without a probation period. Unfortunately, some of the candidates participating in the selection closed their interviews to public. Among them was Mikheil Chinchaladze, towards whom public interest was especially high. Hence, it is unknown to the Coalition how the interview process went, however the Coalition plans to request and review the assessments of HCOJ members.
The Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary responds to media statements and calls by High Council of Justice (HCOJ) members that discussed the need for new regulations limiting the freedom of expression and called for improvement of self-regulatory mechanisms of the media, in order to protect the standing of the judiciary and reputation of judges. Importantly, the initiative of introducing sanctions to protect the reputation of the judiciary was also discussed in the Judicial System Strategy working group, causing strong criticism from international experts and local civil society organizations involved in the project.
The Coalition addresses the judicial selection competition that the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) initiated on February 17 to fill 84 vacancies. Applications have already been reviewed and 105 candidates were selected for interviews.
In the recent Rustavi 2 case, the quality of the court’s handling of the case, the procedural problems and questions raised at each stage of the case, and the suspension of enforcement of the Supreme Court’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights all confirmed the existence of systemic problems in the justice sector which have been actively pointed out by local and international organizations.
The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary submitted a written communication to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. The document aims to inform the Committee of Ministers about the state of execution of the so called Garibashvili Groupcases.
29 non-governmental organizations have addressed the European Court of Human Rights on the Rustavi 2 case.
We are deeply concerned by the decision, made on March 2 by the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia, stating that the owner of Rustavi 2 shares will become Kibar Khalvashi (60%) and Ltd Panorama (40%).
On March 1, the Georgian Parliament approved a package of legislative amendments with the third and final hearing that involves creating a new agency under the State Security Service that will carry out secret surveillance activities.
Media outlets have recently disseminated information about participation of a judge reviewing the case of Rustavi 2 in corrupt deals and about alleged pressure on two judges of the Supreme Court who are also involved in examining the case.
On February 6, the parliamentary majority initiated a legislative package that regulates the conduct of covert investigative actions in a new way. The legislative package provides for the creation of a legal entity of public law, Operative-Technical Agency of Georgia, which will be responsible for covert surveillance and eavesdropping. Together with technical implementation of eavesdropping, the agency will have a number of other functions, which makes it an interested entity in obtaining as much information as possible.