Public Defender Terms Decision of High Council of Justice as Incompatible with Principle of Equality
The Public Defender is criticizing the appointment of Lali Mskhiladze as a judge for life tenure by the High Council of Justice and calls on the High Council of Justice to verify and consider judicial candidates’ commitment to the values, such as equality, prohibition of discrimination and tolerance, when making a decision on their appointment.
According to media reports, Lali Mskhiladze responded to the violent dispersal of the demonstration held on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by counter-demonstrators on May 17, 2013, on the social network. In particular, Mskhiladze described the process for the rights of the LGBT+ community as “disease” and “disgrace”.
It is noteworthy that no one has been punished for the physical violence occurring on May 17, 2013. The Public Defender has repeatedly stressed the need for a timely, effective and accountable investigation into the hate crimes committed on May 17 in 2012-2014. In addition, with regard to the cases similar to the 17 May 2012 incident, the European Court of Human Rights held that the Georgian authorities failed to ensure effective protection of demonstrators, and thus violated Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination). The European Court also accepted and will consider two complaints relating to the facts of 17 May 2013.
The Public Defender considers that judges’ statements based on false stereotypes, their insulting phrases and hate speech against various minorities/vulnerable groups are concerning.
The LGBT+ community is one of the most vulnerable groups in Georgia. The aggressive attitude of the society, which is nourished by stereotypes, limits the community's opportunities to integrate with the society and live in harmony and dignity. The judicial corps, as the main body of judiciary, has a special role in the fight for the equality of the vulnerable groups, including the LGBT+ community. According to the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, a judge, like any other citizen, is entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly, but in exercising such rights, a judge shall always conduct himself or herself in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. Article 18 of the Code of Judicial Ethics of Georgia specifically indicates that a judge should be properly constructive in his/her statement, should not use insulting, degrading words and expressions or discriminatory terminology. In addition, a judge must advise court employees to refrain from making such a statement.
Given all the above, the Public Defender calls on the High Council of Justice to observe the principles of the anti-discrimination law in the process of selection of judges and try to raise public confidence in the court.
 Public Defender’s Report on the Situation of Human Rights and Freedom in Georgian, 2014, page 530.
 Public Defender’s Report on the Situation of Human Rights and Freedom in Georgian, 2015, page 715.
 ECtHR, Identoba and others v Georgia, App. No. 73235/12, 12/05/2015
 Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, value 4.6, 2002, available at: https://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/corruption/judicial_group/Bangalore_principles.pdf