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CRRC survey: people in Georgia are not knowledgeable about process of Selection of Supreme Court Judges

By Levan Abramishvili
Wednesday, October 23
CRRC Georgia has published the results of a survey carried out on September 5-11, 2019, within the EU-funded project “Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary (FAIR)”.

The phone survey was conducted to find out the level of knowledge and attitude of the Georgian population regarding the selection process of the Supreme Court judges.

The survey resulted in 867 completed interviews and is representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.2%.

The survey's key finding was that people in Georgia are split in their trust in judicial institutions, are unfamiliar with the process, have little trust in it, and generally have not heard of the candidates selected.

Generally, the public is divided on whether or not to trust the High Council of Justice, the Supreme Court, and the court system in general. About half of the public trusts and distrusts each of these institutions, according to the phone survey.

In terms of awareness of the Supreme Court candidates' selection process, the public is also divided. Around half of the Georgian-speaking adult population (54%) heard about the selection process of Supreme Court candidates. Nevertheless, their attitude towards it is is not particularly positive, as the process is not trusted by about half of those who have heard about the selection (53%). Furthermore, nearly half of those who heard about the method of selection say the selection was not impartial (48%).

“The survey asked respondents to share their first association regarding the selection of the Supreme Court candidates. The majority (64%) did not have any association, responding don’t know. Of those who shared their views, there were both positive and negative associations as well as neutral ones. However, negative attitudes predominated. Overall, 3% of respondents reported a positive word, 20% reported a negative association and 10% of responses were neutral. The top three associations were that “appointment should not be lifetime” (6%), “insecurity” (3%), and “distrust” (2%). Positive associations included “hope” (1%), “the process is going in a good direction” (0.6%), and “fair court”. Some of the negative associations were: “negative attitude” (2%), “unfairness” (1%), and “clan” (1%),” reads the survey results.

The survey asked about whether each applicant, should or should not be appointed as a Supreme Court judge, from the finalized list of 20 candidates submitted to the Parliament. The majority of people in Georgia (over 60% for most candidates) reported that they have not heard of the candidate. Attitudes were most approving of appointment towards: Shalva Tadumadze, Prosecutor General (14% of the population approve of his appointment), Giorgi Mikautadze, Secretary of the High Council of Justice (13% of the population approve of his appointment), and Shota Getsadze, judge of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals (10% of the population approve of his appointment).

Approximately one-fifth of the surveyed (19%) said that the appointment of these 20 candidates will improve the country's justice. Around the same percentage (19%) says the state of justice is going to get worse. Approximately one-third (29%) assume it will stay the same.

Taking into account the lack of knowledge of the population about the selection process and their stance on it, it may not be surprising that only 1% of the Georgian-speaking adult population considered it as one of the most important events of the summer. The top five events named during the survey were:

- The devaluation of Georgian Lari;
- Dissolution of the June 20 rally;
- Further moving the administrative boundary line between Georgia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region;
- The protest rallies “It’s a shame”;
- Gavrilov’s visit to Parliament.

“Overall, the public is divided in their trust towards judicial institutions. More than half of the population has heard of the Supreme Court judge selection process, though few find it to be among the most important events of the summer. Among those that are aware of the selection process, attitudes are more negative than positive. A majority of people in Georgia have never heard about the candidates,” concludes the survey.