Public Defender Responds to Selection/Appointment of Judges
Selection/appointment of judges has a substantive impact on a state oriented to democratic order, rule of law and human rights. Selection of judges that fully meet the high judicial status is the primary guarantee for an independent and impartial judiciary.
The Public Defender considers that the results of the monitoring carried out by the Public Defender’s office in the common courts should have been taken into account in the process of evaluation of judges by the High Council of Justice. For this purpose the Public Defender presented collected and summarized information about performance of certain judges from 2005 to the present day to the High Council of Justice before it started to interview judicial candidates. The information was based on the Public Defender’s annual reports and the recommendations periodically submitted to the High Council of Justice about the launch of disciplinary proceedings.
Unfortunately, the High Council of Justice summed up the results of the competition without considering the Public Defender's appeal at any stage. The issue has not been put on the agenda during the competition; no debate or discussion has been held. Accordingly, the Public Defender is not informed of whether the monitoring results were considered at all or not.
It should be noted that the selection/appointment of judges was accompanied by harsh criticism from the civil society. A number of grounded remarks were expressed during the competition, however, the High Council of Justice has not adequately responded to any raised issue. One of the important remarks concerned the non-publication of biographies of the nominated candidates by the High Council of Judges, as well as the improper response to the conflict of interest, unequal treatment of candidates during interviews, absence of certain members of the Council at the meetings, etc.
The Public Defender considers that similar shortcomings in the process of selection/appointment of judges do not help creation of institutionally independent and strong judicial system in the country. According to the Public Defender, the High Council of Justice failed to ensure the kind of selection/appointment of judges that would be regarded as justified and objective by outsiders. Unfortunately, the legitimate questions in the civil society and professional circles further deepen the public distrust in the justice system.
The developments related to the selection/appointment of judges, on the other hand, endanger the reform of the justice system, and on the other hand, raise serious questions about the objectivity of the Council.
The Public Defender calls on the Parliament of Georgia and the Ministry of Justice to timely resume consideration of the bills concerning the third wave of judicial reform in order to ensure proper conduction of the next process of appointment of judges.