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Activists Call to Suspend Chief Prosecutor Selection, Pending Reform

A group of around 40 civil society organizations united in the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary called for suspending the process of selecting a new chief prosecutor pending reforms in the Prosecutorial Council.

Speaking at a press conference on July 3, the local civil society organizations, among them Open Society Georgia Foundation, Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers Association and Georgian Democracy Initiative, claimed that the Prosecutorial Council should be reformed, citing low public trust towards the prosecutor’s office. They also said the rule of selecting a Chief Prosecutor should be changed in line with the new Constitution.

“If the entire system is not improved, eventually we will receive the same result and we will have politically non-neutral prosecutor for the next six years,” Sopho Asatiani, the representative of the Open Society Georgia Foundation said.

The Justice Ministry said on July 2 that 15 candidates have been shortlisted for the Chief Prosecutor,  including Shalva Tadumadze, the newly appointed Head of the Government’s Administration (nominated by the Tbilisi State University), and Shalva Shavgulidze of the Free Democrats, named by the European Georgia, an opposition party in the Parliament.

Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze resigned on May 31 following mass demonstration at his office over the controversial Khorava street incident last December.

CSOs boycotted the consultations on selecting the new Chief Prosecutor and demanded Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani’s resignation.

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. The new rule for selecting a prosecutor is defined by the new constitution approved by the Parliament, which should enter into force following the presidential elections. According to the new constitution, the Georgian prosecutor’s office is independent in its activities and obeys only law. It is led by the Prosecutor General, who is elected by the majority members of the Parliament for a term of six years and who is accountable to the Parliament.

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