The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary, uniting 40 civil society organizations, on November 24 called on the Georgian Parliament “to refrain from appointing Supreme Court judges until a systemic justice reform takes place and a political consensus for deciding such issues becomes mandatory.”
The statement comes as parliament is set to interview four Supreme Court nominees – Genadi Makaridze, Nino Sandodze, Tamar Okropiridze, Tea Dzimistarashvili – on November 25-26. There are currently five vacant positions in the Court, whose justices serve lifetime appointments.
Calling the commencement of parliamentary hearings “unjustified,” the Coalition criticized the Parliament’s ability to appoint the judges by simple majority vote, without the need for a political consensus between parties on the candidates. The Coalition added that electing the candidates now would strengthen “political influences over the Supreme Court.”
The CSOs also reiterated that the existing rules for the selection and appointment of judges do not safeguard the process from political party influences and that the results of the previous selection processes proved that candidates were not assessed based on merit and professional integrity
The Coalition also noted that process of interviewing and evaluating the four top court candidates was flawed and “clearly lacked legitimacy.”
According to the watchdogs, the High Council of Justice, the body overseeing the Georgian judiciary, violated the deadline for appointing three out of four candidates – Okropiridze, Sandodze and Dzimistarashvili.
Earlier, in July 2021, the ruling Georgian Dream lawmakers appointed six Supreme Court judges despite agreeing in the EU-brokered April 19 deal with the opposition to refrain from making new picks under existing legislation.
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