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Process over the High Council of Justice complete

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, June 17
High Council of Justice will launch its actions from June 22. Statement concerning the issue was made by the chair of the Supreme Court, Kote Kublashvili, on June 14. Judge and non-judge members of the Council have already been elected. However, the process was carried out through various confrontations and the seats of two non-judge members still remain vacant.

Formation of High Council of Justice has been recognized as a new step in Georgian court system. However, the outcomes of the process are assessed differently.

HCoJ consists of 15 members. After the election of 7 judges out of 8, Minister of Justice, Thea Tsulukiani, expressed dissatisfaction concerning the outcomes and hoped that 6 members elected by the parliament from the civil sector as the non-judge members would have been appropriate.

Parliament elected four non-judge members of the High Council of Justice (HCoJ) in a second round of voting on June 14, but two seats in the Council, which oversees the judicial system, were left vacant as lawmakers from the UNM parliamentary minority group refused to participate in vote. They stated that the majority and minority could not agree on the candidates.

Four new members elected on June 14, include Eva Gotsiridze, nominated by the Georgian Patriarchate’s University of St. Andrew the First-Called; Kakhaber Sopromadze, a lawyer nominated by the Association for Free Development and Rights Protection; Vakhtang Tordia, nominated by Social Programs Foundation and Gocha Mamulashvili, nominated by Caucasus University.

Kublashvili thinks that the process of electing the members of HCoJ was transparent and there are no obstacles for starting work for the body. Secretary of the Council was also elected. The only candidate on the post was Levan Musuridze, as the other four candidates removed their candidacies in favor of Musuridze.

Musuridze made the first statements. According to him, the creation of a commission for studying legal violations is principally unacceptable for him. He is also against the judges being punished, based on the decision of such a council.

Deputy Minister of Justice, Aleksandre Baramidze, stated that the Venice Commission is not against the formation of such a commission. According to him the aim of the commission will not be the punishment of judges.

“There are thousands of complaints received from Georgian citizens who state that illegal and unproved verdicts were imposed on them. The Georgian government believes that creating a commission that will study the issues and improve the shortcomings of the court system is necessary,” Baramidze said.

Minister of Justice, Tsulukiani, also stated that the Venice Commission was positive over the commission on studying Georgia's legal shortcomings. She stressed that based on the Venice Commission there are some issues that should be decided according to the needs of the state.

Head of Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, stated that hope that something would change in the court system after electing the new members of High Council have been dashed. According to him, court system is still in the hands of the United National Movement.

HCoJ is an independent body, created to coordinate judiciary system and to promote effectiveness and independence of the judiciary. The main functions of HCoJ are: organization of the qualification exams of judges, the selection and appointment of judges for trial and appellate courts, disciplinary proceedings, legislative drafting and analytical work, quality management and fostering relationships with the public.