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Local CSOs convene a joint news briefing, June 5, 2018. Photo: Screengrab from Rustavi 2 video

CSOs Demand Justice Minister’s Resignation

A group of prominent civil society organizations said they would not participate in the consultations on selecting a new Chief Prosecutor and demanded Justice Minister’s resignation.

The group, including Open Society Georgia Foundation, Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Human Rights Center, Georgian Democracy Initiative, and Human Rights Monitoring Center, convened a joint news briefing on June 5 in response to the yesterday’s statement of the Justice Ministry, according to which Minister Tea Tsulukiani has already launched consultations on selecting the new Chief Prosecutor.

“We call on the Government of Georgia to dismiss the Justice Minister,” Eka Gigauri, head of Transparency International Georgia, said, adding that Tsulukiani failed to implement judicial reform and that “this person will not be able to select a genuinely independent, impartial and dignified chief prosecutor.”

“We are ready to participate in the consultations [regarding the candidacy of the Prosecutor General] provided that this process is led not by the incumbent Justice Minister, but by another person who would take up the position,” Sulkhan Saladze of Georgian Young Lawyers Association said.

The group also said the list of organizations and higher educational institutions that the Justice Ministry offered to join the consultations has omitted several leading institutions, a decision that the NGOs claim was politically tinted and reflecting the Minsiter’s preferences.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili slammed the group’s demand as “completely absurd and unreasonable” and called on them “to assume for responsibility for their own decisions.”

According to the Justice Ministry, two candidates have already been named for the chief prosecutor’s position. Paata Shavadze has been named by 18 organizations and individuals and Zurab Jorbenadze – by citizens’ political union Georgia. The both are members of the Georgian Bar Association.

The opposition European Georgia party has already named Shalva Shavgulidze of Free Democrats party as a candidate for chief prosecutor. Independent politician, Aleko Elisashvili has named Anna Dolidze, a member of the High Council of Justice as a candidate. According to media reports, the ruling party is holding consultations on the candidates of Deputy Interior Minister Natia Mezvrishvili and MP Vano Zardiashvili.

The chief prosecutor’s position became vacant after Irakli Shotadze resigned on May 31 following mass demonstration at his office over the controversial Khorava street incident last December, which left two 16 year-olds – Davit Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili – stabbed to death.

According to article 91 of the Law of Georgia on the Prosecutor’s Office, “in the case of termination of powers of the Chief Prosecutor, the Minister of Justice should start consultations with academic circles, members of civil society and law specialists to select candidates for the position of the Chief Prosecutor.” Following the consultations, the Justice Minister will select and submit to the Prosecutorial Council for approval at least three candidates one-third of whom is of different gender. Voting for each candidate shall take place separately. A candidate who receives the majority of votes, but no less than 2/3 of all members of the Prosecutorial Council shall be approved as the new Chief Prosecutor.

 

 

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