Two Supreme Court Judges Disagree with Court’s Denunciation of Proposed ‘Vetting’

Two Supreme Court judges Nino Bakakuri and Ekaterine Gasitashvili do not agree with the Supreme Court statement made on March 11, denouncing the initiative to check the integrity of judges through extraordinary “vetting” mechanism, according to Netgazeti.

The Supreme Court argued that it “would undermine the independence of the judiciary and the individual judges” as well as “the public trust towards judicial system”, thus “facilitating political control” over the judiciary.

Judge Bakakuri reportedly told the agency that Judge Gasitashvili and herself did not join the statement made following the Supreme Court plenum session decision and explained their positions in the session minutes.

In addition, Netgazeti reported on March 15 that at least nine judges in the Georgian court system, based on their responses to the agency’s letters or their publicly stated opinions, do not oppose the mechanism for checking the integrity of key judges.

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze reacted to the two Supreme Court judges’ opposition by claiming that at least one of them had integrity problems, adding that such judges should focus on checking their own integrity rather than that of others. According to PM Kobakhidze, the referred judge “is lazy” and does not consider cases in a timely manner.

On March 15, a group of CSOs said in a joint statement that the Prime Minister’s “attack” on the dissenting judges is “particularly problematic.” The CSOs called on the government “to stop the discreditation campaign” and fulfil the EU conditions “which is a necessary prerequisite not only for joining the European Union, but also for the creation of an independent and impartial judiciary and the development of the country.”

The undersigned CSOs include Georgian Court Watch, Group of Independent Lawyers, Transparency International-Georgia, Democracy Defenders, Georgian Democracy Initiative, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Social Justice Center, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Rights Georgia, Civil Society Foundation, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), Democracy Research Institute (DRI), Partnership for Human Rights.

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