The messenger logo

NGOs oppose sanctions for verbal abuse of judges

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, May 1
The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary, which currently unites 36 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has released a statement over the recent initiative of the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) of Georgia, about imposing sanctions for the verbal abuse of judges.

The Coalition says that at present, there are a number of shortcomings in the judiciary system and on this background, such an initiative only restricts freedom of expression.

“We believe that silencing criticism by introducing artificial or repressive mechanisms will not protect or raise the prestige of the court. This can be only achieved by timely response to systemic problems and by implementation of reforms in the judiciary system,” the statement of the collation reads.

The United National Movement (UNM) opposition believes that the threat towards the judges comes from the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and not from the civil sector.

“If we are talking about sanctions, they should be imposed on the ruling party, which pressures the judges,” Nino Kalandadze from the UNM stated.

The Chair of Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee, Eka Beselia, says that the initiative has caused unhealthy public discussions.

“The judges speak not about the restrictions on criticism but about the facts of insults which go beyond the limits,” she said.

The Chair of the GD faction, Mamuka Mdinaradze, says that they will not support the initiative if the draft will imply criminalization of verbal abuse of judges.

“If there will be talks about criminalization of such actions, in this case my team will not approve this initiative because it might endanger freedom of speech and expression,” Mdinaradze said.

Nino Gvenetadze, the Chair of the Supreme Court of Georgia, says that the judges do not request sanctions.

“Our motivation is not imposing of sanctions. The aim of such a dialogue is to increase confidence in the judiciary and to establish a high standard of legal justice, which should have public, media and judges,” she said, adding that the judiciary will find a sharp margin between criticism and insult by only using its own practice and ethical standards.