In separate interviews published on April 18 by the Georgian daily 24 Saati (24 Hours) and Rezonansi (Resonance), Chairman of the Supreme Court Kote Kublashvili named the lack of qualified cadre as one of the major problem facing the country’s judiciary system.
In an interview with 24 Saati said that currently “even minor details in the judiciary are undergoing reforms and we are not yet at the stage where results can be seen.”
Kublashvili said that the first wave of reforms in the judiciary, which was launched in 1997-98, failed because no reforms were carried out in the Interior Ministry and the General Prosecutor’s Office.
“I can not say yet that the result of the current reform is perfect, because we have a serious problem related with the cadre… Today we have 100 vacancies [for judges],” Kublashvili said.
In recent years many judges have resigned, or were dismissed, which, according to opponents, has led to the overworking of acting judges, which eventually effects the quality of their rulings.
Kublashvili said that many judges were dismissed for their lack of qualification, some of them were arrested for bribery charges and many of them filed for resignation “especially after they saw that some of their colleagues were arrested for bribe-taking.”
“They had to quit because it was impossible to reach a desirable result for reforms with that cadre,” Chairman of the Supreme Court said.
He also said that it is hard to fill the vacant positions in the courts because “many fail to meet our criteria.” “We have just recently completed testing procedures, but only 70 candidates [for the judge position] could pass the examination, from 600 potential candidates,” Kublashvili said.
He said that the newly created High School of Justice aims at overcoming the current problem of lack of a qualified cadre.
“The School will have two major functions: to teach judge candidates over 14-week long courses… and the second is to provide additional training to acting judges,” Chairman of the Supreme Court said.
He also said that the problem of corruption “is actually solved.” He told Rezonansi that high salaries, which were increased starting from January, 2006, for judges contributed to this fight against corruption. He said in the regions judges receive a minimum monthly salary of GEL 1,450 (USD 796), judges from the Court of Appeals receive – GEL 2,000 (USD 1,100) and in the Supreme Court – GEL 3,000 (nearly USD 1,650).
In the interviews Kublashvili denied allegations that the judiciary is under constant pressure from the General Prosecutor’s Office.
“It is not true. And figures prove it. [Judges] ruled positively on a total of 79% of the prosecutors’ appeals… During January and February of 2006 only in 70% of the cases [did judges rule] in favor of pre-trial detention, while the rest of the decisions were made in favor of bail,” Kublashvili said.
He also denied accusations that the Justice Council, which is in charge of overseeing the judicial system’s performance, acts as a tool to mount pressure on judges.
“Because of the fact that there are many unqualified judges, as well as dishonest judges, there are many wrongdoings as well. The Justice Council and Disciplinary Council became more effective and do not turn a blind eye [on alleged wrongdoings] any more. So as a result about 40 judges were sacked and even more reprimanded,” Kublashvili said.