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President Saakashvili considers blocking law initiative

By Keti Arjevanidze
Monday, December 24
“If the draft law remains in its current form, I will use the presidential right and veto this bill, because it will bury an independent judiciary in Georgia once and forever,” Mikheil Saakashvili addressed Parliament members from his residence on December 20th.

Saakashvili criticized the government-proposed package of legislative amendments on reforming the High Council of Justice because he thinks that the incoming law project represents a danger to an independent court.

According to Saakashvili, incoming changes in the law considers the Council of Justice and the Judiciary’s formal control by the executive branch of government.

The law project and the president’s statement triggered an opinion confrontation among politicians and political parties.

Eka Beselia, head of the Human Rights Protection Parliamentary Committee said that the president is lying. “Based on the change there will be only lawyers and society members in the Justice Council– the government and parliament will not interfere; parliament will not have a member on the Justice Council,” Beselia said, stressing that the system will become more democratic, free and independent.

Aleksandre Baramidze, the Deputy Justice Minister, said the bill aims at eradicating executive government’s control on justice and the legal system, and it also minimize parliament’s control.

According to the bill, there should be no MPs and no presidential appointees on the High Council of Justice, but it will still be chaired by the Supreme Court Chairman as it is predicted by the constitution.

“I am a member of the High Council because of my position, but according to the changes in the bill, I will not be a member anymore,” said Vakhtang Khmaladze, head of the parliamentary committee of legal issues, explaining that no politicians will be in the High Council of Justice.

Several norms in the bill are unacceptable for the Supreme Court of Georgia. Kote Kublashvili, Chairman of the Supreme Court, thinks that it interferes with the independence of the court system.

Zurab Japaridze, a United National Movement (UNM) member, explained that the law project is unacceptable for his team because it roughly interferes in the court’s activities.

UNM members called on Georgian Dream (GD) not to discuss the proposed amendments and wait for the recommendations from the Venice Commission.

The proposed bill has been submitted for review to the council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs.

According to the GD, the Venice Commission advised the ruling party not to hurry up. The Parliamentary majority plans to revise the bill in January.