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Freedom House Speaks about Problems in Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 22
An influential, US-based and government-financed Non-Governmental Organization Freedom House says that executive and legislative interference in the courts remains as a substantial problem in Georgia.

In the report on Georgia, the organization claims that corruption and a lack of transparency and professionalism are surrounding judicial proceedings.

The report mentions that in August 2018, Nino Gvenetadze, then Chair of the Supreme Court of Georgia, resigned due to health reasons.

“However, many observers suggested that she was pressured to resign. Under a new constitutional framework that took effect after the 2018 presidential election, Supreme Court judges are nominated by the High Council of Justice rather than the president and then approved by Parliament. A judicial self-governing body elects a majority of the council’s members,” the report reads.

The organization also says that in December, the High Council of Justice, responsible for nominating judges, presented a list of Supreme Court nominees.

“But a coalition of NGOs argued that it had used an opaque process and selected judges with tainted reputations. The coalition of NGOs called on Parliament to adopt more robust qualification rules and transparent procedures for selecting Supreme Court judges before it considered any nominees from the council”, reads the report.

According to the organization, the office of the country’s public defender, or ombudsperson, has reported problems including a failure to fully implement Constitutional Court rulings, administrative delays in court proceedings, the violation of the accused’s right to a presumption of innocence, and the denial of access to a lawyer upon arrest.

In addition to the problems in the judiciary, the organization says that the ability of elected officials to determine and implement governmental policy “is impaired by the informal role of Bidzina Ivanishvili,” the founder and Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party.

According to the report, Ivanishvili’s ‘authority’ was demonstrated in June 2018, when then Prime Minister Kvirikashvili resigned due to disagreements with him over the economic policy.