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Parliament Speaker: We Changed Justice System without Replacing Judges

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, February 7
Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze says since 2012 ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party changed the justice system but did not change the judges, which are at present criticized and blamed to be “corrupt and biased.”

In his interview with talk show Reaction, Kobakhidze commented on the controversial list of lifetime judges, saying they used to work during the previous government and “do bad things while now they only do good.”

“Before 2012, the justice system was faulty. There were millions of bad cases but after 2012, there are none. We changed the system without changing people,” he claimed.

When the Parliament’s Chairman was asked about composition of the court, he stated that in 2013, GD faced the dilemma: replace the court corps or to reshuffle its content and the ruling team chose the second way.

“We could not touch the existed composition due to the Constitution and therefore, within the same composition, we have revised the principles and based on this revision, we received a radically different picture: rights of thousands of people are firmly protected by the judicial system," he added.

Kobakhidze says there is a political assault against the judiciary, adding it must be responded.

“Protection of human rights and the work of the court is the main issue for the ruling team,” he said.

The Speaker also commented on the statement, released by the GD political council about the recent developments in the judiciary. He said GD’s task is to ensure independence and effectiveness of the judiciary.

GD released the statement on February 5, saying in 2012 they inherited the country, where “people were deprived of justice.”

“We chose the only lawful way to heal the system – by removing political pressure and enabling the judicial branch to find its own path and to serve the law, as an institution free from political influence, and also by ensuring the legislative independence of the [courts] and to achieve the system’s qualitative improvement,” the statement reads.

The statement also mentioned a 10-member list of lifetime judges for Supreme Court nominated by the High Council of Justice (HCOJ), which was criticized by the opposition and NGOs for its composition.

It says the discussions over the issue have been postponed until spring, adding that the Parliament will define new procedures and criteria for nominating and electing judges, followed by the HCOJ endorsing an updated list of judges based on maximally open and transparent procedures.

The GD also called on political forces and non-governmental organizations not to get involved in “unhealthy political confrontation” and to promote result-oriented discussions instead.