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Constitutional Court will have a new judge from January

By Khatia Kardava
Friday, December 8
With 90 votes against zero, Georgian MPs have supported Eva Gotsiridze on the position of a judge of the Constitutional Court.

Gotsiridze’s candidacy was mainly supported by the ruling Georgian Dream party.

Members of the parliamentary opposition did not attend the ballot, except majoritarian MP Salome Zourabishvili who voted for the candidate. Other members of opposition and part of the civil society requested postponing discussions over the issue. However, the parliamentary majority rejected the suggestion focusing on regulations.

Starting from January 2018, Eva Gotsiridze will take up the post with a term of 10 years. She will replace Lali Papiashvili in the Constitutional Court.

With regard to the criteria according to which Gotsiridze was nominated for the post, head of Parliamentary Committee on Legal Issues Eka Beselia says the candidate’s qualifications cannot be put under question.

“She is one of the distinguished constitutionalists. Her publications, papers, books on international law, human rights, constitutional law - are one of the most distinguished. She has a long professional experience in court,” said Beselia.

The nomination and approval of Gotsiridze on the post was conducted in fast pace. On November 27, the parliamentary majority nominated Gotsiridze as a candidate on the post of a judge of the Constitutional Court. On November 28, the Committee on Legal Issues discussed her candidacy, the discussion lasted for 45 minutes. On December 1, the legislative body appointed Eva Gotsiridze as a judge of the Constitutional Court.

The parliamentary minority and some representatives of NGO sector believe that the ruling party is in a hurry since Gotsiridze should answer all the questions that are in the society. The accelerated speed causes suspicion about political neutrality of the candidate as well.

“It is a final step to full subordination… I would say, in degradation of the Constitutional Court,” said MP Roman Gotsiridze from the United National Movement (UNM) after the final voting took place in Parliament.

MP Irakli Abesadze of the European Georgia says that “having politically loyal persons in the Constitutional Court is very comfortable for the Georgian Dream.”

Eva Gotsiridze herself denies the allegations of the opposition, as she told journalists in Parliament, it is an “absolutely wrong expectation” that she will pursue the interests of any political force in the Constitutional Court.

“I will be independent - it's a matter of dignity and professional self-respect,” declared the newly-elected judge Gotsiridze.

Why has the nomination of Eva Gotsiridze evoked mixed feelings among political forces?

There could be two main reasons: short time span from nomination to appointment as a judge of the Constitutional Court and parts of Gotsiridze’s biography when she acted for the High Council of Justice.

Giorgi Burjanadze, Human Rights Program Manager of the Open Society Georgia Foundation, says the decision is “non- transparent” and it will affect the Constitutional Court eventually.

Burjanadze also stresses that none of the interested parties from professional circles, NGOs, different political groups had an opportunity to meet the candidate to discuss her views.

“There are a lot of things we wanted to ask her, but we did not have a chance to listen to her,” he added.

Some Facts about Eva Gotsiridze:

- Gotsiridze was a member of the High Council of Justice of Georgia from 2013-2017. Earlier this year, the Government of Georgia nominated Gotsiridze for Georgia’s seat as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, however Gotsiridze’s candidacy was rejected by the European Court together with two other candidates.

- In April 2016, Gotsiridze blamed non-governmental organizations for anti-state attitudes.

- Gotsiridze was vocal concerning the highly political 2015-2017 Rustavi 2 TV Company ownership case, and defended the Judge Tamaz Utmelidze, who had ruled to transfer the ownership of the TV station to its previous owners.

- In April 2017, she proposed setting regulations against verbal abuse of judges: “freedom of expression can be limited in defense of the judiciary.”

- On December 1 2017, Eva Gotsiridze told a media outlet Netgazeti that she supports the decision of the Constitutional Court made on November 30 on decriminalization of consumption of marijuana.