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In Quotes: Politicians, CSOs on Venice Commission Opinion

Georgian politicians and civil society organizations have commented on the opinion of the Venice Commission on the selection and appointment of judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Civil.ge offers you these press remarks:

Ruling party assessments

Irakli Kobakhidze, Parliament Speaker: “The Venice Commission gave positive assessment to the amendments introduced in the law [on Common Courts]. It gives a number of key recommendations. My position is that a great part of the recommendations can be accepted, including the recommendations based on the demands of our political opponents, including on removal of judicial examination from the selection criteria, as well as the recommendation related to the conflict of interests. We will hold meetings with the stakeholders, including international partners, government officials and representatives of political parties and CSOs, to discuss the Venice Commission recommendations. We will also convene a majority meeting, where I will try to convince my colleagues of what I may not be fully on board with, but I will try to convince them of the necessity of accepting some of these recommendations. As for political recommendations (referring to the recommendation that further appointments may be made after the next Parliamentary polls), we will definitely discuss them, but this type of recommendations will not be reflected in the draft law.”

Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the parliamentary majority: “The opinion is positive, regardless of the criticism we have heard during the last few months. The few points that were included in the recommendations have nothing to do with the spirit of alternative bills. There are only few proposals, and I do not think that any of them cannot be accepted.”

Anri Okhanashvili, chair of the Legal Issues Committee: “This is a very important assessment. Our draft bill is in full compliance with the CoE recommendations – and this was positively assessed by the Venice Commission. This means that fundamental issues were assessed positively.”

Opposition assessments

Salome Samadashvili, the United National Movement: “The incumbent Parliament should not appoint the judges to all vacancies that are open in the Supreme Court. The Venice Commission points out clearly that under this Parliament, the ruling majority will not appoint independent judges in the Supreme Court. The commission assesses the government’s policy towards the judiciary negatively.”

Otar Kakhidze, European Georgia: “Trust towards the High Council of Justice is low based on the information that was provided to the Venice Commission. Therefore, they called on the authorities that this Parliament should not compose the Supreme Court and at least one half of judges should be elected by the next Parliament. This answers all of our questions, that the High Council of Justice is discredited and that the Parliament should not be mandated to appoint all judges. This is probably the key issue in this conclusion.”

Eka Beselia, independent lawmaker: “This conclusion is a real slap in the face of the ruling party; it is impossible to criticize the draft more sharply than it is in the Venice Commission opinion. When the Venice Commission tells you that the High Council of Justice enjoys low public trust and the Parliament should not elect all judges now and some of them should be elected by the next Parliament, this means that neither the HCoJ, nor the Parliament enjoy any trust.”

CSO assessments

Sulkhan Saladze, Georgian Young Lawyers Association: “I hope the ruling party will read what is actually written in the document, and will not try to mislead the public and label the recommendations as politically-motivated.”

Giorgi Mshvenieradze, Georgian Democracy Initiative: “This conclusion is very critical of the government. The government has been trying to portray its bill as unprecedentedly transparent, but the Venice Commission opinion highlighted that it contains a lot of fundamental problems.”

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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