Judges Distance Themselves from Statement Slamming EU, U.S. Embassies

Over a dozen Georgian judges have distanced themselves from the November 4 statement by the Administrative Committee of the Conference of Judges accusing the EU and U.S. Embassies of meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

The Committee had lashed out at the Embassies in response to criticism over the recent appointment of two judge-members to the High Council of Justice. The election was intransparent, hasty and noncompetitive, according to the Embassies’ assessments.

Ketevan Meskhishvili, justice of the Tbilisi Appellate Court, stressed in a Facebook post on November 4 that with the efforts of Georgia’s international partners, “we have for years tried to create a court [system] that is more trusted and respected.”

Referring to the Committee statement, she highlighted that justices addressing the international partners “in this spirit means a missed opportunity for our country and the future of our children.”

In the comments section of Meskhishvili’s statement, Tbilisi City Court judges Eka Areshidze and Tamar Khajomia, Kutaisi City Court judge Tsitsino Kikvadze concurred with their colleague’s assessment.

Meanwhile, Tbilisi Appellate Court justice Gela Badriashvili, Tetritskaro District Court judge Badri Niparishvili and Gori District Court justice Levan Darbaidze extended gratitude and support to Georgia’s Western partners.

“Our international partners have selflessly helped us build in building an accountable court system with high public confidence, and free of internal or external influences,” Darbaidze noted, adding the Committee’s attitude toward the Embassies “will not promote progress in the judiciary.”

In a separate post, Tbilisi Appellate Court judge Shota Getsadze stressed he disagrees with the spirit of the Committee’s statement.

Tbilisi City Court justice Zaza Martiashvili in his statement pointed out that that the U.S. and EU have assisted Georgia “exactly in the country’s internal affairs over the decades, which has never been perceived as interference.”

He highlighted it is natural that the Embassies are interested in the judiciary developments, as their “significant resources have been allotted to reforms.”

Tbilisi City Court justice Giorgi Ebanoidze and Telavi District Court judge Mamuka Tsiklauri also issued statements denouncing the Committee’s missive.

Supreme Court justices weigh in

Two justices of Georgia’s supreme court, Nino Bakakuri and Ekaterine Gasitashvili expressed solidarity with their colleagues in a joint statement on November 5, adding it is crucial that every judge has the right to express their opinions freely and publicly.

They stressed that the contributions of Georgia’s international partners for the country’s development, institution-building and rule of law are immeasurable.

This article was updated at 14:29. A joint statement by Supreme Court Judges Nino Bakakuri and Ekaterine Gasitashvili was added.

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