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How to select judges?

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, December 23
The rule of law and the impartiality of the court are the major foundations of an independent country.

The current Georgian Government claims that unlike in previous years when the United National Movement party was running the state, the Government no longer interferes in the court’s activities.

Georgia has only 25 years of experience as an independent country, and during much of that time the country was struggling with wars, the darkness of the 1990s and political corruption.

The country started taking steps towards Europe mainly under the UNM Government. However, as it has been highlighted in a range of reports released by several non-governmental organizations, the courts often acted as the “Government’s slaves.”

Most of the verdicts that were delivered under the UNM Government favored the prosecution.

Of course, the courts are quite restricted in their rights and deliver verdicts based on the outcomes of investigations and genuine evidence, but even court representatives claimed that they were pressured by the Government.

Now there are two major political forces in the country – the ruling Georgian Dream coalition that defeated the UNM in 2012, and the UNM itself, now in opposition.

The current state leadership preserved almost all the judges who served under the UNM, perhaps to avoid critical international assessments.

However, this then raises the question as to whether a judge who carried out bias sentences under the UNM will produce fair verdicts under the new government.

Even if such a judge is no longer pressured by the current Government, there is no guarantee that the current opposition might try and influence them.

Several days ago, Georgian legislative, executive and judiciary representatives - together with local and foreign experts - sat down in Tbilisi to discuss the existing problems in the court system.

Almost all of them emphasized that reforms were required on the legislative and instructional level to ensure that the judges in the system are completely unbiased, especially when their appointment is for an unlimited term.

The head of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Nino Gvenetadze, stated that “very transparent and definite criteria should be drafted”, which will take into account a judge’s past and present activities, qualifications and experience prior to their appointment.

The changes might be painful and difficult, but it is of the utmost importance, as the Georgian court system requires serious reform.