On October 9, opposition political parties signed the First 10 Steps of Judicial Reform, a document designed by leading Georgian CSOs, including TI Georgia, ISFED, Georgian Democracy Initiative and Open Society Georgia Foundation, aiming to transform the Georgian justice system by freeing it from informal influences, encouraging internal democratic processes and establishing highest standards.
8 opposition political parties, including the United National Movement, European Georgia, Labour Party, Lelo for Georgia, the Citizens party, Democratic Movement – United Georgia, Strategy Aghmashenebeli, and For Justice party, signed the document, and agreed on 10 principles constructing the concept of judicial reform:
1. The Parliament shall adopt a resolution of political nature evaluating the past experience and the political/legal reality which was created by Georgia’s justice system that had been deinstitutionalized and subjected to political influences.
2. The procedure of staffing and the scope of powers of the High Council of Justice shall be changed to ensure the institutional independence of the judiciary and to relieve it of its “clannish rule” by strengthening deliberative democracy and implementing consensus-based procedures.
3. The rule and procedure for staffing the Supreme Court shall be improved in compliance with the principle of transparency and impartiality, aimed at selecting the best candidates for the Supreme Court.
4. Individual, functional, and institutional independence of judges shall be ensured.
5. The independence of the High School of Justice shall be strengthened. The High Council of Justice should be deprived of the dominant position in the process of staffing the Board of the High School of Justice.
6. The system of disciplinary proceedings of judges shall be improved. The selection rules of the independent inspector should be improved and guarantees of its independence must be created.
7. The number of judges shall be increased. Using exception norms, an inflow of new judges into the judiciary should be ensured on a single occasion.
8. The role and area of operation of jurors shall be increased, which implies the expansion of the institute of jurors in the type of litigation within which a person may be sentenced an imprisonment.
9. The state should facilitate the increase in the role of arbitration by enacting legislative changes that will enhance the credibility of arbitration.
10. The administrative staff of courts is provided with fair working conditions. In addition, the state should ensure that the administrative staff of courts is hired on the basis of a sound and fair competition.
By signing the document, the political parties are committing themselves to collaborate on the judicial reform according to the concept in the new Parliament, which will be elected on October 31.