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The News in Brief

Thursday, June 2
PM comments on Rustavi 2

“I would not like to see Rustavi 2 changed and give an excuse to for anybody to speculate on political inference in the media, especially in the pre-electoral season,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has told reporters.

According to him, the issue of ownership of the network is still being discussed in court. “This is a civil process and the government has no right to interfere with it. I, as the PM, cannot have any caprice towards a private TV Company,” Kvirikashvili said.

But he says he categorically condemns the insults that the Director-General of Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia, recently unleashed towards state institutions. (IPN)

Appeals Court postpones Rustavi 2 hearing, CEO expects worst-case scenario

On Tuesday the appeals court postponed the hearing of Rustavi 2 case for Friday, June 3, and its CEO fears the same day the court will issue its decision in favor of the former owner, who, they believe, will strip the Georgia’s main opposition channel its independence.

The Tbilisi City Court in November decided the litigation in favor of Khibar Khalvashi, its former owner, who claims that back in 2006 he was forced to cede Rustavi 2 to the “Saakashvili regime.” If the Appeals Court upholds the decision, Rustavi 2 current management will challenge it at the Supreme Court.

Nika Gvaramia, Rustavi 2's Director general, was expelled from the court on Tuesday by the judge for contempt of court. He claims the judges are under pressure by the authorities, namely by Thea Tsulukiani, the Minister of Justice.

Gvaramia appealed to the President, Speaker of Parliament and Public Defender.

“Wake up, friends, here unprecedented injustice is going on…wake up and fulfill your constitutional responsibilities!” Gvaramia said. (df watch)

Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary Reacts to the Delay of the Third Wave Judicial Reform

The third reading of the Third Wave Judicial Reform bill was on the agenda of the May 25-27 plenary sessions at the Parliament of Georgia. However, once again, Parliament delayed consideration of the draft's amendments.

Parliamentary considerations of the Third Wave drafts have been taking place for about eight months. Committee readings started in September–October 2015. Afterwards the process was delayed for several months. In February 2016, considerations were resumed and on May 6 the Legal Committee adopted the package at the third reading. However, since then the bill has not been voted for at a plenary session.

The delay of eight months and negotiations over the contents of the bill, which were taking place behind the closed doors, have significantly damaged the legislative process. The contents and quality of the package have also been affected. The reasons for postponing the third reading are unclear.

The Coalition thinks that the Third Wave bill has been significantly revised. The revisions have damaged certain positive and progressive initiatives. Despite this assessment, the Coalition believes that that the legislative process has to be completed and several improvements proposed in the bill have to be enforced due to their critical importance to the court system.

The Coalition considers the final version of the Third Wave bill insufficient and inadequate for addressing challenges existing in the court system. It believes that the timely adoption of the Third Wave amendments will create a basis for more fundamental changes.

The future reform shall address the following issues: the operation of the High Council of Justice and its decision making procedures, judicial appointments and promotions, and judicial disciplinary liability. The work of the recently introduced institutions (e.g. a three-year probationary period) or the institutions which are about to be enacted (including the Inspector and Management Department) have to be carefully examined.

The Coalition addresses the initiators of the Third Wave drafts and political factions in Parliament with a demand to consider the crisis existing in the court system and take timely steps towards the fundamental reform of the justice system. In order to achieve this objective the Third Wave amendments have to be adopted and enacted on time. This will create a platform for future reform which will be more inclusive and open for substantive discussions.

The Coalition continues to work on the judicial reform agenda and stands ready to provide detailed legislative drafts in this process. (IDFI)