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PACE Georgia monitors welcome April 18 agreement and call on political forces to fully implement it

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, June 10
Following a visit to Tbilisi last week, the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia, Titus Corlatean and Claude Kern, have made a statement, where they welcome the political agreement mediated by European Council President Charles Michel that was signed by the majority of political forces in Georgia.

According to the statement published by the Council of Europe, the full implementation of the agreement could signify a considerable step forward in the country’s democratic consolidation. “All political parties should therefore join efforts to implement this agreement, and those that have not done so should sign it without delay,” stated the two co-rapporteurs.

According to the statement, they emphasized the importance of having an impartial and genuinely independent judiciary that is fully trusted by the Georgian people. While welcoming the considerable progress made with reforming the judiciary, the rapporteurs called on the government to ensure that the evaluation of the third and fourth waves of judicial reform is based on an inclusive process, with the engagement of all relevant parties, including civic society. They also underlined that the evaluation process is a great opportunity to address the remaining unfulfilled recommendations of the Venice Commission concerning the judiciary, “especially as regards the High Council of Justice, whose functioning and low level of public trust remain an obstacle for a genuinely independent judiciary and a very serious point of concern.”

The co-rapporteurs called on the Parliament of Georgia to ensure that the selection process of non-judge members to the High Council of Justice is inclusive, transparent, consensual, and merit-based. Regarding the selection process, the rapporteurs welcomed that practically all recommendations of the Venice Commission have now been adopted by the Georgian parliament, however, they were unhappy that the selection process began before the adoption of these amendments.

The statement reads that the co-rapporteurs also expressed their concern at the recent controversial amendments to the Law on Administrative Offenses. The rapporteurs recommended drafting a completely new Law on Administrative Offenses, in close consultation with the Venice Commission.

The rapporteurs expressed their deep concern over the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They welcomed the efforts of the Georgian government to ease the situation and expressed regret that such efforts were hampered by restrictions imposed on the free movement of citizens and international organizations by the de facto authorities. The co-rapporteurs call on the de facto ‘authorities’, and the Russian Federation as the country exercising effective control, to lift these restrictions immediately.

According to the statement, the co-rapporteurs plan to visit Georgia again following the local elections.