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1st Working Meeting to Elaborate Rules for Selection of Judges Held Amid Protest

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, January 29
First working meeting to elaborate new procedures for the selection of judges on Sunday was held amid the protest of the civil sector, who were demanding the resignation of several judges.

The meeting came after the large-scale turmoil regarding the decision of the High Council of Justice, an independent body which is responsible for the selection of judges, on 24 December, when the body nominated 10 judges for lifetime for the Supreme Court of Georgia in a hasty manner, without previous consultations with two non-judge members of the council and other interested parties.

The civil sector responded sharply, as well as several members of the Georgian Dream ruling party, who believed that there were “several biased judges on the list.”

The former head of Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, who resigned two days after the presentation of the list, Eka Beselia even accused Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze of lobbing the list.

The first working meeting to select the criteria for the selection of “fair judges,” as the ruling party promised the civil sector and public, was chaired by Kobakhidze and the member of the ruling party, Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee and High Council of Justice participated in it.

Two non-judge members of the council Anna Dolidze and Nazi Janezashvili quitted the meeting in protest as “those judges were participating in the meeting, who were on the list of 10 judges for the Supreme Court.”

“This is the interest conflict,” they said.

The reason was the same for the members of the United National Movement to leave the meeting.

The European Georgia opposition believes that the composition of the working group must change, as otherwise no genuine goals will be achieved.

The civil sector representative, who were holding a rally in front of the Radisson Blue Iveria Hotel in Tbilisi during the meeting, were demanding the resignation of those judges from the High Council, who supported the list of the 10 judges.

Kobakhidze stated that no decisions regarding the criteria were made during the first meeting.

He also stated that NGOs were invited to participate in the meeting, however,” they boycotted the process.”

“The meetings are open to interested sides,” Kobakhidze said.

The parliament decided on 26 December 2018 to postpone discussions regarding the judges until the spring session and elaborate new procedures for the selection of judges.

Several members of the ruling party say that the lifetime appointment of judges might be suspended until 2024.

Lifetime appointment of judges was introduced by the Georgian Dream leadership in 2013-2014 to provide higher guarantees for judges and their fairness.