PM Ivanishvili said in a statement on May 28 that upcoming reshuffle in the High Council of Justice (HCoJ), a body overseeing judicial system, “is an important reform, which should play a decisive role in the establishment of the independent judiciary.”
Amendments to the law on common courts, envisaging reform of 15-member HCoJ, went into force last week after more than five months of intense debates and multiple revisions of initial draft. Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Usupashvili, signed the bill into law on May 20 after the Parliament overturned presidential veto on May 1.
Six members of the council will be elected by the Parliament from candidates nominated by legal advocacy NGOs, law schools and law departments of various universities, as well as Georgian Bar Association; deadline for naming candidates expires on May 31. Seven seats will be occupied by judges elected by the Conference of Judges, a self-governance body of the judiciary. One sitting judge member of the current HCoJ will retain the seat because his current membership is in line with new criteria introduced by the legislative amendments. One seat is occupied by Chairman of Supreme Court, Kote Kublashvili, who is an ex-officio member of the council.
“A Conference of Judges will be held on June 9, where the judges will elect their representatives in the reformed High Council of Justice. I hope that the judges will use the increased rights granted to them independently and in a qualified manner, while the process of elections will be transparent and open for the observers,” PM Ivanishvili said in a written statement.
“Since the composition of the High Council of Justice has a huge importance for the entire judiciary, I do not rule out that outside individuals may have a temptation to exert influence on the results of election of the members of the High Council of Justice. I deem it inadmissible, because in order to achieve real judicial independence, first and foremost, it is essential to guarantee non-interference in its activities,” reads the statement.
“I believe that today Georgia is as closer to the goal of establishment of the independent judiciary as never before. I am sure that everyone, both within and outside the judiciary, realizes importance of this event. So I call on everyone to facilitate judges in making their choice independently without [anyone’s] interference,” Ivanishvili said.