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Ruling party invites Venice Commission to settle dispute over judges

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, February 22
The Georgian Dream ruling party has asked the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe to help the country settle the controversy over the selection and appointment of lifetime judges.

They believe that it will be very helpful if the commission helps the country elaborate a draft document which all parties agree to as even the ruling party members are not unanimous regarding the issue.

The ruling party stated that they will not support the bill drafted by its member Eka Beselia and eight other ruling party legislators, who have offered the postponement of the lifetime appointment of the judges of the first and the second instances of courts until 2025.

The party claims that the draft bill was made without any previous consultations and it also contradicts the constitution.

“The current constitution speaks about an increase of the number of judges at least by 100 when the bill by Beselia says that the number should be decreased,” the party says.

“The decrease will put the Georgian court system in a grave situation and it might block its activities [due to the absence of a sufficient number of judges],” reads the Georgian Dream political council’s statement.

Beselia says that the ruling party knew about the bill and that if some formulation of the bill was unacceptable for the party members they could have discussed it.

She said that when she stated about the bill, no one stood against it in the ruling party.

The High Council of Justice, a body responsible for the appointment of judges in the country, nominated the 10 judges for the Supreme Court of Georgia without previous consultations in December.

The list was criticized by NGOs and several key figures of the ruling party, stating that the list included several judges who were related to politically motivated cases and a biased judiciary.

NGOs and many users on social media have asked parliament to withdraw the list and refine the procedures for the selection of judges.

Beselia quit the post as the head of Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee shortly after the list was made, and stated that the list was lobbed by Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, which Kobakhidze denies.

Lifetime appointment of judges was introduced by the Georgian Dream leadership in 2013-2014 to provide higher guarantees for judges and their fairness.