NGO Democracy Index Georgia published a statement on October 7th, stating that Parliament should not elect the nominees for the Supreme Court Judges from the list of candidates provided by the High Council of Justice.
Democracy Index Georgia says Parliament should not elect Supreme Court nominees for Supreme Court Judges
By Inga Kakulia
Tuesday, October 8
As mentioned in the statement, observing the interviews conducted by the High Council of Justice with the candidates of the Supreme Court Judge position, made it obvious that the candidate selection process was deeply flawed, which will influence the outcome of it. If it wasn’t for the above-mentioned flaws, the candidates for the position of the Supreme Court Judges would have been different.
“The interviews with the candidates were conducted by an unauthorized person, who at the same time was signing multiple decisions made by the Council. This circumstance, in itself, is the basis for the annulment of the decision taken by the Council,” read the statement.
The NGO also identified unequal approaches to candidates coming from individual members of the council, indicating a biased evaluation of candidates, ignoring competence and integrity criteria.
Cases of clear conflicts of interest that have been identified in a number of cases, that have not been avoided by the Council precludes the objectivity of individual members of the Council.
Council judges and several non-judge members have consistently shown a lack of interest in interviewing candidates, expressed aggressive attitudes when faced with questions and towards two active non-judge members, leaving the impression that the result of the interviews was not crucial to the final evaluation of the candidates.
The irregularities identified during the interview process cannot be eliminated by the candidate nomination procedures, as these procedures do not require justification of the candidates' evaluation/nomination, and the decision on the nomination of candidates is made by secret ballot,” reads the Democracy Index – Georgia’s statement.
According to Democracy Index - Georgia, it is important to note that with the biased nomination of candidates and ignoring the constitutional criteria of competence and integrity, the High Council of Justice promotes a flawed competition procedure adopted by the Parliament of Georgia, which is insufficiently restrictive and allows for the Council to choose candidates subjectively. The organization believes that such an opportunity is particularly favorable to the High Council of Justice, given that board members do not have to substantiate candidates' ratings, and can make nomination decisions without taking into account the evaluation results.
The organization suggests that only those candidates who were acceptable to a narrow group of influential people within the judicial system were nominated to parliament. As seen during the public hearings of the Judicial Candidates in the Parliament, the violations and illegal decisions made by the High Council of Justice cannot be corrected and Parliament should not elect the candidates nominated by the Council.
Therefore, according to the Democracy Index – Georgia, the only lawful and correct decision that the Parliament of Georgia can make, regarding the nominees is to not elect them. All the other decisions, no matter how transparent the procedure is, are unacceptable and cannot guarantee the independence of the Supreme Court, concludes the statement.