The Government of Georgia submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe the list of three candidates for a vacant position of the Georgia-nominated judge to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The following candidates have been nominated by the Government:
- Lado Chanturia – Georgia’s ambassador to Germany since 2014, former Chair of the Supreme Court;
- Otar Sichinava – judge at the Tbilisi Court of Appeal, former Constitutional Court judge;
- Lali Papiashvili – deputy Chair of the Constitutional Court, full professor at Tbilisi State University’s Law Faculty.
Two of the three - Papiashvili and Sichinava - were selected as a result of the repeat competition announced on July 25 by the Ministry of Justice to replace the two rejected candidates (Shota Getsadze and Sophio Japaridze) in the previous candidate composition.
The 13-member selection commission under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia interviewed eight candidates from the pool of 28 applicants on August 26 and selected the list of four candidates (Lali Papiashvili, Tamar Alania, Ioseb Bachiashvili, Otar Sichinava), which was later submitted to the Government for approval. The Government shortlisted the two candidates at its session on August 29.
Lado Chanturia - the third candidate – was approved by the Government in its previous list of candidates and was endorsed by the Council of Europe Advisory Panel of Experts, which offers nominating governments confidential advice on potential candidates before the final list of three is sent to the Assembly (Getsadze and Japaridze were rejected by the Advisory Panel).
CSO, Political Party Reactions
The repeat selection competition was marred with the boycott of the civil society organizations and the Georgian Bar Association. It was sharply criticized by the opposition parties as well.
The United National Movement and the European Georgia, who accuse Papiashvili and Sichinava of acting on government orders in the Rustavi 2 TV case, described their selection as “shameful” and “destined for failure.”
“The is a logical conclusion of an entirely discredited process, an absolutely shameful end… of course, such judges and such candidates are a disgrace for our country,” stated Zaza Bibilashvili of the United National Movement.
“The fact that they were present to Strasbourg is yet another attempt destined for failure,” stated Zurab Chiaberashvili of the European Georgia.
Repeat Selection Process
The nationwide procedures for selecting three candidates for vacant ECHR judge position have been underway since December 2015.
In January 2017, the Committee on the Election of Judges to ECHR, special committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, rejected all three Georgia-nominated candidates to ECHR, citing lack of qualifications, prompting the Government of Georgia to re-announce the call for applications in February.
In May 2017, the 13-member selection commission under the Justice Ministry shortlisted five new candidates, three of whom were later approved by the government and presented to the international Advisory Panel of Council of Europe experts.
The Advisory Panel said in its July conclusion that only one (Lado Chanturia, former chairman of Georgia’s Supreme Court) out of three candidates met the criteria set by the European Convention, prompting the Government of Georgia to announce on July 25 a new call for applications to replace the two rejected candidates.
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
The tenure of Nona Tsotsoria, current Georgia-nominated ECHR judge, expired in January 2017, but was prolonged due to the PACE committee rejection of Georgia-nominated candidates.