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Parliament overrides President’s veto

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 10
The Parliament of Georgia overrode a presidential veto on judicial reform, which he vetoed on January 24, saying it included some provisions that contradict the principles of judicial independence and impartiality of judges.

The veto was overridden late on Wednesday, February 8, by 97 votes. The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party holds 115 seats in the 150-member legislative body, in which just 76 votes are needed to override the veto.

“We cannot understand why the Parliament did not share the President's remarks on the bill on common courts,” Giorgi Abashishvili, head of the Presidential Administration, asked.

He also added that Margvelashvili’s remarks are in line with the Venice Commission's comments.

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said the reform will not reduce the court's independence.

“The legislative package passed by Parliament was defined by long discussions. The new reform will strengthen the independence of the judiciary,” said Kobakhidze.

The Parliament of Georgia approved the package of bills over the court reform initiated by the Ministry of Justice with its third and final reading on December 29, 2016.

The bill offered the introduction of a random electronic case assignment system from 2018.

It also suggested lifting the obligation of a three-year probationary period for judges before their lifetime appointment. The draft said that acting and former members of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, who had at least three years of working experience, would not have to take the three-year probationary period. However, all other judges would have to do this.

The draft also said the number of Supreme Court judges should be no less than 16.

The President’s remarks for the veto included:

Court chairpersons should be elected by judges and not be appointed by the High Council of Justice, an independent organ created to co-ordinate the judiciary system and to promote the effectiveness and independence of the judiciary.

One and the same person should no longer be a chairperson of the court and the court’s chamber at the same time.

The law should specify the number of the Supreme Court judges.

The Judges of the Council of Justice should have the opportunity to be represented more solidly, since the court chairperson will no longer be member of the Council.

The rules of collection and dissemination of information about candidates during a competition should be specified.