We would like to respond to media reports of July 10 showing an informal meeting between Vano Zardiashvili, deputy chairperson of the Georgian Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee, Mikheil Chinchaladze, chairperson of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal, and Giorgi Mikautadze, new secretary of the High Council of Justice. Media reports also included a photo of Giorgi Mikautadze together with leaders of the Georgian Dream ruling party and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor.
Non-governmental organizations have repeatedly pointed to clan governance as the main problem of the Georgian court system, which is backed by the executive government. According to our information, Vano Zardiashvili acts as the government’s contact person with influential groups in the judiciary. Zardiashvili has close family and friendship ties with two of the most influential persons in the court system - Mikheil Chinchaladze, chairperson of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal, and Giorgi Mikautadze, secretary and current replacement of Levan Murusidze in the High Council of Justice. In addition, Vano Zardiashvili's wife is the head of the Department on Judicial Performance Evaluation Management of the High Council of Justice.
This latest evidence of the existence of informal relations between the executive government and the judiciary strengthens our suspicion about the concerted nature of their actions. Such unhealthy relations between the two branches of government undermines the constitutional principles of separation of power and having a functioning system of checks and balances, which greatly damages the development of an independent and quality justice system in Georgia. This reality also damages public trust towards the judiciary, especially in relation to cases that are of interest to the government.
We, organizations signatory to this statement, once again urge the government and relevant authorities to take action against such informal relations. If this practice continues and the government fails to show any real political will to improve the judicial system, all future reforms will be doomed to failure, much like the already completed three stage judicial reform, which has failed to produce any tangible results.
Transparency International Georgia
Georgian Democracy Initiative
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Georgia's Reforms Associates
In-depth Reporting and Advocacy Center
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