“Until the work of the reform group is completed, there is still an opportunity to implement fundamental reforms of the judicial system, which must be taken advantage of,” the Public Defender’s Office emphasized in its 25 October statement.
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According to the statement, three months after the Parliamentary working group on judicial reforms was created, there is still no answer regarding whether Parliament has considered issues like the fundamental reform of the High Council of Justice (HCoJ), aligning legislation with recommendations of the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, and enacting the reforms stipulated by the EU-mediated April 19 agreement.
In addition, according to the Public Defender, the action plan presented by Parliament for reforming the judiciary does not include any of the recommendations submitted by their Office, which did not require legislative changes. These are:
- the need to supervise the implementation of reforms already implemented in the field of justice;
- the need to strengthen the implementation of the existing legal framework regarding property declarations by judges;
- the need for changes in the rules for the electronic distribution of cases, which will ensure the selection of all three members of the common courts panel on a random basis;
- the need to ensure equal and proportional workload of judges;
- the need to consider the recommendations issued by the OSCE/ODIHR in August 2021;
- the need to write detailed rules and criteria for choosing an independent inspector.
Additionally, per the Public Defender’s Office, despite their recommendation, the draft of the action plan for judicial reforms was not sent to the judges of the common courts.
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Referencing Article 78* of the Constitution, the Public Defender’s Office reminded Parliament that it “is required to fulfill the prerequisites that the European Union has determined for granting Georgia the status of a candidate country.”
On the basis of the same article, the Public Defender also called on Parliament “to take into account the recommendations of the Public Defender, civil society, and partner countries of Georgia to solve the problems in the justice system and ensure the right to a fair trial in the country.”
Article 78* of the Consitution – Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic Structures: The constitutional bodies shall take all measures within the scope of their competencies to ensure the full integration of Georgia into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
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