On September 7, 2021, the Parliament of Georgia passed the constitutional amendments in the first reading, with 126 MPs voting in favor. Unfortunately, the issue of appointing a Prosecutor General by a qualified majority was dismissed from the draft constitutional law, which would reduce the risk of only one party appointing her/him in the future and would be a step forward in strengthening the Office's independence and neutrality. According to the current legislation, the Prosecutor General is elected by the majority of the total number of the Members of the Parliament upon nomination by the Prosecutorial Council.
The agreement reached between the political parties on April 19 provided for the change in the procedure for the appointment of the Prosecutor General, in particular, for the election of the latter by a qualified majority of MPs. According to the agreement, the Prosecutor General should be appointed through a transparent, impartial, merit-based process, following the international best practices. By refusing to change the Prosecutor General appointment rules, the governing party has reaffirmed its lack of political will to reform the Prosecutor’s Office and its desire to retain political control over the justice system.
This fact was assessed negatively by international partners as well. According to the US Embassy, this is another missed opportunity for Georgia to have an independent, transparent and impartial justice system, while EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell noted that refusing the change is the third failure in two months in terms of Georgia's commitment to judicial reform.
Reforms in past years have failed to establish a truly independent and politically neutral prosecution system. The rules allowing the appointment of the Prosecutor General with unilateral political support carry the risks of making a politically motivated decision. Under the existing legislation, the Prosecutor's Office is viewed as an institution subject to political influence.
Implementing fundamental reforms in the area of rule of law and ensuring a justice system free from political influence is crucial for the country's political stability and the future of EU-Georgia relations.
Recent developments have significantly damaged the country's democratic development and Euro-Atlantic integration process. Last week, the acting head of the EU Delegation, Julien Crampes, said that Georgia had failed to sufficiently address the condition for the macro-financial aid, notably, to increase independence, accountability, and the quality of the judicial system. Against this backdrop, the refusal to change the rules for appointing the Prosecutor General is another alarming sign that the governing party is hampering the country's democratic development and European integration process by neglecting its commitments to reform the justice system.
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