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Georgia’s court system ‘has never been as free as it is now’, Georgian judges say

By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, June 29
Judges of common courts of Georgia released a joint statement on Monday in which they express concern over what they say is “politically motivated, highly unhealthy processes aiming to discredit the judiciary”. Judges call on everyone to stop the anti-state campaign against the independence of the judiciary and to allow the institution to act following the constitution.

The statement reads that the independence of the judiciary is one of the main bases of a democratic public arrangement and the constitutional order of Georgia. It is stated that the judiciary must be free of the interference of both executive and the legislative bodies, as well as of any unhealthy influence from other actors involved in public and political processes. The judges claim that the court in Georgia ‘has never been as independent as it is today’.

According to the statement, despite the fundamental progress in the field of justice confirmed by foreign ratings and statistics, there has been a politically motivated, deliberate disinformation campaign against the independence of the judiciary, involving individual NGOs, political parties, and media outlets under their influence.

“We are ready to listen to any healthy criticism aimed at further strengthening the judiciary. However, no one has the right to violate the constitutional principles of the independence of the institution and restrict constitutional bodies of the judiciary to exercise their powers,” reads the statement signed by more than 300 judges.

The joint appeal of the judges came in response to the statement made by NGOs and foreign embassies, which call for a moratorium on the election of new judges to the Georgian Supreme Court and the High Council of Justice (HCJ) until the April 19 EU-mediated agreement is fully implemented.

The EU-proposed agreement signed by the majority of Georgian political parties focuses on the implementation of large-scale electoral and judicial reforms. The Georgian parliamentary opposition believes that the EU-mediated agreement will be violated if the parliament approves candidates for the Supreme Court. However, the ruling Georgia Dream party said they would support the appointment of judges to the country’s supreme court because the state legislature adopted major judicial reforms before signing the EU-mediated agreement.