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Matter of Transparency in High Council of Justice of Georgia

By Levan Khutsishvili
Tuesday, April 3
On March 26, during the council meeting, Judge Member of the High Council of Justice of Georgia Sergo Metopishvili initiated to close council meetings for media and NGOs. Metopishvili thinks that because of the existence of the representatives of media and NGOs on meetings, work of the High Council of Justice is suspended and meetings looks like to a reality show.

"This is an unhealthy atmosphere, I will prove it. I wanted to reveal and discuss it also before. There are huge issues and problems and we are busy here just trying to give each other quick responses. Result of transparency is that working regime has started to seems like a reality show,“ Sergo Metopishvili said.

The initiative of the Judge member of the Council is unacceptable for some other members of Council, for ruling party and coalition of NGOs.

Nazi Janezashvili - non-judge member of the Council said that the closure of the meetings would lead to the difficult situation for the Council.

"Naturally, this will reduce trust and will create more questions about the council," Nazi Janezashvili said.

Members of the parliamentary Majority also negatively responded to Metopishvili’s statement

"The sessions of the High Council of Justice of Georgia should be open and if the decision of closing the sessions will be made, I think the Parliament will adequately react to it," said Dimitri Khundadze.

According to Zakaria Kutsnashvili, the judicial system's work should be transparent. He believes iif the High Council of Justice will obscure its work, Parliament will have the right to use the law and keep the transparency of the Council.

The initiative of the judge was negatively estimated by the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary.

According to the declaration that the coalition has published, the initiative is contrary to the law and principles of democratic governance. Such an initiative can only be a hindrance for the transparency of the Council's activities and the reputation of the Court.

The High Council of Justice is a collegial body, which applies to the requirements of the third chapter of the General Administrative Code of Georgia. According to the law, the Council is obliged to publicly conduct its sessions. The initiative of the Council of Justice members on the closure of the Council meetings is contrary to the requirements of the law, the nature of the collegial body and the principle of publicity.

The Coalition states that, because of public hearings on the sessions several important issues were revealed: existence of influential group in judiciary system, several legislative shortcomings, problems in the work of the Council and the needs of reforms. The coalition thinks that the initiative of Judge Sergo Metopishvili can serve only the purpose of hiding information about problems and challenges in the work of the Council and the suppression of critical thinking in the Council.

The Council’s accessibility promotes the “principle of accountability.” According to the 10th conclusion of the European Judges' Advisory Board, "the transparency of actions carried out by the Council of Justice should be ensured. Transparency is a key factor in the trust that citizens have towards function of judiciary system and guarantees protection against threat of political influence or against personal interests and personal protection within the jurisdiction", is said in Coalitions declaration.