The Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary considers the appointment of Mikheil Chinchaladze for a second term as the chairman of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals unjustified and harmful. The High Council of Justice’s decision further deepens the problem of internal influences and clan-based governance in the judiciary. It undermines public trust towards judicial independence and damages the crucial process of Georgia's European integration.
Judge Mikheil Chinchaladze's five-year term as a chairman of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals expired on May 29. To elect a new chairman, the High Council of Justice scheduled several meetings in June, however, all of them were canceled for unknown reasons. Finally, at the June 27 meeting, after consultations with the Tbilisi Court of Appeals’ judges, the Council unanimously supported the appointment of Chinchaladze as the chairman of the court for a second term.
Civil society has long been addressing the main challenge in the judiciary -- the existence of an influential group of judges, one of the key figures of whom is Mikheil Chinchaladze. International organizations also point to this challenge, as well as the need to consider the local context when reforming the justice system in Georgia. However, the ruling party still does not acknowledge the problem of corporatism in the judiciary. Moreover, recent legal amendments, which have significantly undermined the guarantees of the independence of individual judges, contribute to the continuation of this vicious practice and sustain the power of influential members of the judiciary.
The EU recommendations provided to Georgia as a part of the ongoing European integration process note that Georgia must meet a key precondition of establishing a "fully and truly independent, accountable and impartial" judiciary. The European Commission’s recommendations directly indicate the need for a comprehensive reform of the High Council of Justice. At the same time, the reform needs to be based on broad, inclusive, and multi-party consultations. In these circumstances, it is particularly unfortunate and alarming that instead of implementing the European Commission’s recommendations, the authorities, including the judiciary, direct their efforts towards strengthening the power of the existing group of influential judges.
In the light of all the above, we call on the Parliament of Georgia:
- to recognize the dire situation in the judiciary and the need for fundamental reforms,
- to start working on the implementation of the European Commission’s recommendations in a timely manner.
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