On November 30, 2023, the Georgian Court Watch criticized the lack of results in judicial reforms over the years and presented its assessment and recommendations on the judicial system at the event “Rules of the Game of the Supreme Council of Justice”.
The watchdog said the current situation shows that the legislative processes that have been going on for years have not served the stated goal of reforming the court and establishing an independent, accountable and transparent system. Moreover, additional legal levers have been introduced in recent years to strengthen the existing informal power in the court, which has had a direct impact on both the independence of judges and the functioning of the judicial system in general.
According to the organization, the problems in the judiciary are caused by a number of factors, including imbalanced and informal power, personnel policies, levers affecting the independence of judges, lack of accountability of the judiciary and failure to implement action plans.
Noting that a key role in the judicial reform process is assigned to the High Council of Justice, and underlying that the degree of the Council’s authority and principles of its functioning don’t correspond to democratic standards and don’t serve the purpose of promoting justice, the Watchdog elaborated a number of recommendations.
- Start work in time to fulfill the conditions of the European Commission regarding the creation of an extraordinary system of the principle of judicial integrity;
- Change the composition of the HCoJ so that the majority of its members are non-judges;
- Define an additional criterion regarding the subject that presents the candidate for non-judicial membership;
- Make it mandatory for the candidate for membership in the Council to present his vision to the Conference of Judges;
- Prevent the Chairman of the Supreme Court from being elected as Chairman of the HCoJ;
- Elect a non-judge member as the chairman of the HCoJ and to shorten his/her term of office;
- Review the institution of the Secretary of the Supreme Judicial Council;
- Determine that the Supreme Council of the Justice shall make decisions on general issues by a majority of the full composition of the Council;
- Establish the obligation to publish documents related to the issues discussed by the HCoJ;
- The HCoJ should publish its decisions on the official website in accordance with the deadlines set by the regulations;
- The HCoJ should publish annual reports on its activities;
- The HCoJ should provide live broadcasting of its meetings;
- Review the organizational structure of the HCoJ;
- Ensure the transparency of competitions for senior officials in the HCoJ;
- Evaluate the activities of the departments of the HCoJ;
- Periodically prepare and publish reports on the activities of the Council’s departments;
- Require judges to publicly declare family ties within the judiciary.
The High Council of the Justice is a judicial body that oversees appointments, promotions, and disciplinary matters to ensure the independence, efficiency, and ethical standards of the judiciary. It plays a crucial role in safeguarding the rule of law by maintaining the integrity of the country’s judicial system.
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