The Georgian Public Defender has slammed the bill sponsored by the Georgian Dream lawmakers envisaging a number of amendments to the rules of selecting Supreme Court judicial candidates.
In a statement released on September 14, the Public Defender noted that the bill “fails to address the systemic issues in the process of selection of Supreme Court judges and is merely a nominal attempt to solve the problems.”
The Public Defender said the proposed amendments “fragmentally” address certain aspects of the selection of Supreme Court judicial candidates, while the main recommendations of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR regarding the shortcomings in the selection process remain unresolved.
“The amendment upholds the existing rule of secret decision-making by the High Council of Justice during the selection of judges, which poses a serious problem in terms of transparency and credibility of the selection process,” the statement reads.
The Public Defender clarified that the bill requires no justification for the decisions of the High Council of Justice, but “justification by the Secretary of the Council” which is of “descriptive nature, contains a description of the procedure conducted and general description of candidates advanced to the next stage.” “This information is already available to the public,” the Georgian Public Defender notes.
According to the statement, the second novelty in the draft law is the introduction of a special mechanism for appealing against the decision of the High Council of Justice relating to the selection of the top bench justices. The Georgian Public Defender clarified that as per proposed changes, a repeated decision by the HCoJ on the refusal of submission of a Supreme Court judicial candidate to the Parliament cannot be appealed. “Thus, even if the body authorized to review a complaint finds a violation [in nomination process], the above will not be binding for the Council as there will be no relevant effective enforcement mechanism,” reads the statement.
In this context, the Public Defender highlighted that “the decision made in the process of selection of Supreme Court judges can be appealed to the Qualification Chamber of the Supreme Court, members of which are the judges elected by the Parliament of Georgia “under the flawed procedure” in December last year.”