Public Defender Calls on Parliament to Start Justice Reform
The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Parliament of Georgia to expeditiously adopt the updated rules for the selection of members of the High Council of Justice, which will ensure greater transparency and trust in the justice system and reduce the spheres of influence on the judiciary.
As you are aware, a significant part of the political agreement brokered by Western partners on April 19, 2021 is related to the reform of institutional issues in the judiciary. The document emphasizes the need for a broad, inclusive and cross-party reform process as the most important component in terms of the country’s Western integration. Accordingly, the Public Defender calls on the Parliament to timely establish a judicial reform group that will be as representative as possible and to start implementing the agreement of 19 April 2021.
The Public Defender considers that it is vital for the legislative changes to address the rules of staffing the High Council of Justice. We would like to remind the public that the term of office of 9 (5 non-judges and 4 judges) out of 15 members of the Council expires in 2021, which will lead to a large-scale renewal of the Council. In the coming days, the Parliament of Georgia and the Conference of Judges will be authorized to select candidates for the High Council of Justice in accordance with the existing rules. Unfortunately, the current procedures do not allow for a transparent or inclusive conduct of the selection process.
That is why it should be a priority for the Parliament to reform the process of selection and appointment of members of the High Council of Justice. It is necessary to introduce the kind of model for the selection of members of the High Council of Justice that will reduce the possibility of nominating candidates by one group, and it is also necessary to elect non-judge members on the basis of consensus in the Parliament of Georgia and to ensure transparency as much as possible. These changes need to be expedited in order to ensure that the Council is not staffed on the basis of the existing, undemocratic and non-transparent rules.
After updated procedures for the selection of members of the High Council of Justice are adopted and new candidates are selected, it is important to launch a large-scale reform for the implementation of the 19 April 2021 agreement, with the involvement of public and professional organizations and groups that have worked on the judicial reform for years. The Public Defender expresses her readiness to take an active part in this process.