The U.S. Embassy in Georgia today expressed disappointment over the continued selection process of Supreme Court judges, as the Parliament is interviewing four candidates on November 25-26 to fill four lifetime seats at the top court.
The Embassy voiced concern that the Parliament is moving forward with the appointments before it has “completed an independent assessment of the previous waves of judicial reform,” a provision the ruling Georgian Dream party agreed in the EU-brokered April 19 deal with the opposition.
The statement also highlighted that the judicial appointments are continuing without the participation of the non-judge members of the High Council of Justice, the body overseeing the Georgian judiciary. The Council, ordinarily consisting of nine judge and six non-judge members, currently has five vacant non-judge seats.
“While the High Council and Parliament have rushed through the appointment of judges over the past year, there has been no action on non-judge appointments despite the positions being vacant for months,” the Embassy asserted, adding “The people of Georgia, through the non-judge High Council members, are supposed to have a voice in the selection of these influential and important judges.”
The U.S. Embassy stressed that “the exclusion of independent voices from this process adds to the impression that Supreme Court judicial appointments are being made without meaningful transparency, accountability, or impartiality.”
It strongly encouraged the Parliament to prioritize addressing the said issues before moving on with any further appointments, going on to stress that “Georgia’s closest partners and supporters, as well as Georgia’s political leaders, are united in agreeing that judicial reform needs to continue.”
“The goal now must be to build an impartial, transparent, merit-based judicial system that the people of Georgia can have full confidence in and that allows the full participation of the many qualified, ethical judges and lawyers who work with integrity to promote the rule of law,” the U.S. Embassy stated.
The Parliament is interviewing justices Genadi Makaridze, Nino Sandodze, Tamar Okropiridze, Tea Dzimistarashvili in a selection process slammed by the civil society.
Earlier, in July 2021, the ruling Georgian Dream lawmakers appointed six Supreme Court judges, drawing widespread criticism.
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