The messenger logo

President Salome Zourabichvili Presents Georgian Charter, Urges Opposition to Sign

By Liza Mchedlidze
Monday, May 27, 2024
On May 26th, Georgian Independence Day, President Salome Zourabichvili presented the Georgian Charter, a comprehensive reform agenda aimed at aligning the country more closely with European democratic standards. In her address, President Zourabichvili emphasized the charter's significance, highlighting that it reflects the demands and requests of Georgian society. She called on opposition parties to sign the charter and unite around its goals, marking a collective effort to address crucial societal needs.

The Georgian Charter outlines several key reforms, including the abolition of laws seen as harmful to the country's European course, the liberation and restoration of trust in the judicial system, and the creation of a fair and transparent electoral process. These steps are designed to ensure a more democratic, just, and transparent governance structure.

President Zourabichvili underscored that the charter's essence and spirit are rooted in addressing the existential needs of Georgian society. She pointed out that the charter is not merely a political document but a reflection of the people's aspirations for a better, more equitable future. By inviting opposition parties to sign the charter, she aimed to foster national unity and collaboration, ensuring that these critical reforms are implemented effectively.

Abolition of Harmful Laws:

The charter promises the immediate repeal of laws that hinder Georgia's European integration. This includes:

- Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence: Often referred to as the "Russian law", which is seen as oppressive.

- Election Code Changes: Repealing modifications that compromise fair electoral processes.

- Wiretapping and Offshore Laws: Eliminating laws that violate privacy and promote corruption.

- Amnesty for 2024 Protesters: Releasing individuals detained for participating in politically motivated demonstrations.

Judicial Reforms

The charter proposes extensive reforms to restore trust in the judiciary:

- Integrity Verification for Judges: Inspecting judges' assets and past decisions to ensure transparency and accountability.

- Constitutional Court and Supreme Bodies: Inspecting all members to remove those with politically motivated decisions.

- New Judges: Appointing additional judges to prevent case delays.

- Electronic Case Distribution: Implementing a system to eliminate political influence in case assignments.

- Term Limits for Administrative Positions: Prohibiting judges from holding administrative roles for more than one term.

- Jury System Strengthening: Expanding the jury's role in high-profile cases.

Reform of the High Council of Justice

To ensure independence and reduce excessive power:

- Disciplinary Proceedings: Revoking the council's authority to initiate proceedings that could be used for persecution.

- Appointment of Administrative Chairpersons: Removing the council's power in this area.

- School of Justice Independence: Ensuring the training institution for judges is free from council influence.

- Selection of Supreme Court Judges: Changing the procedure to make it more transparent and constitutionally compliant.

- Term and Role Restrictions for Council Members: Prohibiting them from holding other administrative positions or being re-elected.

Prosecutorial and Security Reforms

The charter aims to make prosecutorial and security bodies more accountable and independent:

- Prosecutor General: Electing this official with a high quorum for a single term to prevent political manipulation.

- Prosecutorial Council: Strengthening this body to ensure fair oversight.

- State Security Service (SSSG) and Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA): Fundamental reforms to deconcentrate power and enhance parliamentary control.

- Special Investigation Service: Empowering this institution to protect citizens from law enforcement abuses.

- Anti-Corruption Agency: Making it independent from the executive branch with investigative powers and accountability to Parliament.

Economic and Regulatory Reforms

These reforms focus on ensuring economic stability and regulatory fairness:

- National Bank: Restoring its independence by balancing executive and non-executive board members and preventing unilateral decisions.

- Regulatory Bodies: Ensuring these bodies operate free from political influence with democratically appointed heads.

Electoral System Reforms

To create a fair and transparent electoral process:

- CEC Chairperson Appointment: Improving the process to ensure impartiality.

- Lowering Electoral Thresholds: Making it easier for smaller parties to participate.

- Restoring Electoral Blocs: Allowing political parties to form coalitions.

- Diaspora Voting: Facilitating participation for Georgians living abroad.

President Zourabichvili called on all political parties to sign the charter and work together to implement these reforms by the end of the first spring session following the October 26th, 2024 elections. This includes preparing for snap parliamentary elections to be held in a free and fair environment. The implementation of these steps will be overseen by a government nominated by the President of Georgia.