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Georgian Dream wants to give judges ten year terms

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 17
The ruling Georgian Dream coalition is preparing yet another constitutional change. It wants to abolish the amendment made during the previous government which will give Georgian judges tenure until the age of 65. Under the current laws judges have 10 year terms but an amendment made by the former UNM government and set to come into effect this autumn will give judges tenure until the age of 65, at which point they will have to retire. Georgian Dream does not want judges who were appointed by the UNM (and who are therefore biased against Georgian Dream) to be in their positions for perpetuity. The United National Movement (UNM) thinks that revoking judges' long tenure violates the independence of the judiciary.

Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili recently suggested that his party's proposed changes would revert to the current system where Georgian judges have 10 year terms. Usupashvili explained that such a move would allow younger, more qualified and less biased judges to take office.

According to Georgian Dream MP Vakhtang Khmaladze the current rules have prevented the court system from hiring more qualified judges. Most of the current judges were appointed in 2004, 2006 and 2008. So beginning next year some judges will have reached the 10 year mark and might be forced to step down if the proposed constitutional changes are enacted.

Georgian Dream has openly described the judiciary as biased in favor of the UNM. Georgian Dream has also described the judiciary as highly unpopular among the Georgian public. The primary task of the current government is to release the court system from those judges appointed during the UNM governance.

Meanwhile, the UNM has characterized the current proposals as pressure on the judiciary's independence. However, Georgian Dream is determined to bring much-needed change to the judiciary in a civilized way so that the judges will not be forced out immediately but will relinquish their positions after their ten year terms' have expired.

However, analysts have expressed doubts whether the current government will be able to achieve a constitutional majority when voting for the measure in Parliament. Everything will be clear in about a month.