The signatory organizations call on the judges of the Common Courts of Georgia not to hold the XXIX Extraordinary Conference on May 26, intended to elect four judges to the High Council of Justice of Georgia.
We would like to remind the public that one of the key issues of the agreement signed by the government and the opposition on April 19 is the ambitious reform of the judiciary, which, in turn, implies the reform of the High Council of Justice. To address the problems of the court system and create public trust, it is vital to staff the Council in a way that will reduce the use of this institution as an instrument of internal and external influence.
Although nine out of fifteen members of the Council (four judges and five non-judges) are to be elected during the 2021 Spring session, the Parliament of Georgia has not yet begun work on changing the rules for staffing the Council. Hence, holding an extraordinary conference and electing judges to the Council under the current legislation, contradicts the spirit of the April 19 agreement and excludes the possibility of electing judges as a result of a fair process; it also reduces the chances of endowing selected candidates with legitimacy and high trust of the public and professionals.
In the light of the foregoing, the signatory organizations call on:
- Common Court judges to refrain from electing members of the High Council of Justice until a change in the rules of composition of the Council has taken place in such a way that ensures transparency and fairness of the process;
- The Parliament of Georgia to promptly adopt an amendment to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts and temporarily suspend the election of judge members of the High Council of Justice by a legislative act, until the April 19, 2021 agreement clause stipulating a transparent and fair election process is implemented;
- Creation of a working format in a timely manner, where it will be possible to assess the already implemented Waves of justice reform, as well as to work on future fundamental reform. The proper involvement of all stakeholders in this process should be ensured.
Georgian Democracy Initiative
Partnership for Human Rights
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
Open Society Georgia Foundation
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Transparency International Georgia
Social Justice Center (former EMC)
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