On April 16, 2019 Venice Commission of the Council of Europe released urgent opinion on the selection and appointment of Supreme Court Judges in Georgia. The opinion completely shares the position of civil society activists and NGOs who, over recent months have been criticizing judges’ appointment process.
“The criticisms claimed that the selection procedure lacked clear and objective criteria as well as transparency. In this respect, NGOs have alleged that the appointment process is controlled by a political network of influential judges, who do not enjoy the best reputation due to past decisions and partial appointments. This resulted in the call for the drafting of legislative amendments to provide for clear and objective criteria and a transparent procedure for the selection and appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of Georgia.” NGO opinion drafted with active involvement of Open Society Georgia Foundation’s Human Rights Program was sent to Venice Commission in the beginning of April.
The Venice Commission assesses the process as “important and very unusual, if not extraordinary, situation. In most countries, the appointment of judges – especially to a supreme court – is staggered over years, if not decades. This renders the nomination and appointment procedure for these judges in Georgia all the more important and should be considered with great care.”
The Commission suggests reconsidering judicial qualification examination. “only a “specialist of distinguished qualification in the field of law” may be a candidate for judges of the Supreme Court. A person with such qualifications should not be forced to sit an examination to prove that he or she is capable of dealing with points of law, which is the essence of the work of a Supreme Court.”
The opinion further covers secret ballot process (Paragraph 33), conflict of interest and importance of restricting the right of voting of the members of High Council of Justice participating in the competition.
Read the opinion.