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Transparency International Georgia analyzes the new judiciary reform

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, February 28
Transparency International Georgia published a comparative analysis of the changes to the legislation regulating the judiciary system prepared by the Ministry of Justice. The draft has already been presented to the Parliament of Georgia for further discussion.

TI Georgia welcomes the changes planned in the Rule of Composition of the High Council of Justice of Georgia, a main link of administration of the judiciary system. Parliament was represented by four MPs in the council. According to the planned amendments the members of the high council will be selected only from representatives of academia working in institutions of higher education, members of lawyers’ associations, or representatives of non-entrepreneurial legal persons specializing in legal issues. However, the organization considers that the issue of the total dismissal of the current High Council, which is determined by the amendments, requires more deliberation.

After the amendments, members and the secretary of the High Council of Justice will be elected only by the Conference of Judges. TI Georgia is concerned that the Chairman of the Supreme Court has exclusive authority to nominate candidates for the positions of members and the Secretary of the Council of Justice and judge-members of the Disciplinary Board of Common Courts at the Conference of Judges. This rule “fails to correspond with the modern principles of democracy and hinders the independence of the judiciary system,” TI Georgia says in the analysis.

The planned changes to the legislation system will also affect the Administrative Committee, established within the system of the Conference of Judges in order to facilitate its work. Acceding to the draft, the power of the committee will be reduced by taking away the right to elect and dismiss members and the Secretary of the High Council of Justice. These changes are positively assessed by TI Georgia, as they find that judges will be more engaged in the management of the judiciary system through democratic and transparent mechanisms.

“The Administrative Committee will be authorized to develop administrative acts and present those acts to the conference for further approval," it said in the draft of the changes.

TI Georgia believes that the changes will positively affect the system by enhancing the independence of the High School of Justice, which is responsible for the professional preparation of persons to be appointed in the position of judge in the system of the common courts of Georgia's school. After the amendments, the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia will no longer be the head of the Independent Council, the body which determines the school’s activity.

“The aforementioned changes will contribute to the enhancement of the independence of the High School of Justice and clear separation of the competences of the High School of Justice and those of the High Council of Justice.”

Current regulations prohibit carrying out photography, filming, and video recording and broadcasting of court sessions in a courtroom or a court building. The changes offered by the Ministry of Justice will allow a lot more publicity of court sessions. Despite the fact that this will be a “step forward to greater transparency of the judiciary system in general”, TI Georgia advises that the new bill “must find a balance between private and public interests” and also set different degrees of transparency in civil, administrative, and criminal cases.