The political council of the ruling Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia party released a statement on February 5 in response to what it called “politically motivated campaign aimed to undermine the judiciary,” and pledging not to allow for “discrediting the judiciary in an unfair and unacceptable manner”.
In a statement, the party defended its track record in reforming the judiciary, put the blame for the campaign against some members of the judiciary on their political opponent – the United National Movement (UNM) – and said some NGOs and professional unions are UNM-affiliated.
The ruling party underscored that it will engage actively in defending its record, as well as the judiciary that has been “qualitatively improved”.
The party also called on political forces and non-governmental organizations not to get involved in “unhealthy political confrontation” and to promote result-oriented discussions instead.
“We will continue reforms to cement and further improve judicial independence and effectiveness,” the ruling party said.
The statement comes following the activist and partisan push-back against the appointment, for the term of good behavior, of the judges that are known to have passed highly controversial judgements during the UNM rule. Recent EU report has also identified progress in the judiciary as “modest” and called for renewed efforts.
GDDG statement in Detail
The statement says in 2012 GDDG has inherited the country, where “people were deprived of justice.” “Against this backdrop, we, the political force, which came to power with a pledge of the country’s democratic transformation, rejected unconstitutional methods of overhauling the judiciary, despite, and to certain extent contrary, to voter attitudes,” the statement reads.
“We rejected the malign practice of revolutionary purges within the system. Instead, we chose the only lawful way to heal the system – by removing political pressure and enabling the judicial branch to find its own path and to serve the law, as an institution free from political influence, and also by ensuring the legislative independence of the [courts] and to achieve the system’s qualitative improvement,” it said.
The party also focused on complex judicial reforms it initiated, quoting providing the improved statistical data as a proof. “Such transformation of Georgian judiciary did not go unnoticed” by international organizations, it claimed.
The political council also noted that “on the path of systemic improvement of the judiciary, constitutional reform has proven to be a milestone” and the enactment of the new constitutional model coincided with “sharply negative processes” related to the judiciary.
The statement also mentioned a ten-member list of candidates nominated by the High Council of Justice (HCoJ) for the Supreme Court judges, stressing that although this decision by the HCoJ has raised some questions, it “formally has not violated the law.”
“The Parliament decided to postpone this issue to the spring session. This decision was supported by the High Council of Justice as well. In addition, the Speaker of the Parliament came up with an initiative for the Parliament to legally define new procedures and criteria for nominating and electing judges, followed by the High Council of Justice endorsing an updated list of judges based on maximally open and transparent procedures,” the statement reads.
The party also explained that “although the process acquired absolutely constructive forms, with an opportunity to have result-oriented legal discussions, political assaults and media attacks on the judiciary continued under the leadership of the United National Movement, its satellite political parties, and the current or former leaders of NGOs and professional unions affiliated with the UNM for years.”
“Their insulting and totally destructive rhetoric and agenda on the court system’s revolutionary purge and the unlawful removal from the system and punishment of certain judges proves that the ongoing process has nothing in common with the noble cause of improving the judiciary, and that it is nothing but an attack tailored to suit a concrete political opposition party’s political agenda and orchestrated by this political force,” the statement reads.