GEO

The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary Responds to the Council of Europe Committee Decision Rejecting the Strasburg Judicial Candidates

01 February, 2017

The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary responds to the Council of Europe’s respective Committee decision rejecting the three judicial candidates for the European Court of Human Rights submitted by Georgia. The Coalition was represented in the national level commission for selecting the candidates. During the interviews, as well as later, the Coalition called to the attention of its fellow committee members, the Cabinet of Ministers, and the wider public the deficiencies of the selection process. The Coalition also shared this criticism and its recommendations to the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe.

Direct participation in the work of the judicial candidate selection commission clearly showed that the assessments of the executive branch and the governing political party representatives were not based on establishing the candidates’ compliance with the established qualification criteria. Instead, they aimed at unconditionally supporting certain candidates and ensuring that they be on the shortlist of candidates submitted to the government. Because of this, we believed that the Commission’s work was meaningless and the important initiative of conducting the selection through transparent and inclusive processes became futile. Additionally, the fact that the Ministry of Justice substituted a candidate in the three-person shortlist using opaque procedures and arguments is also noteworthy.

It is unfortunate that the government did not consider the position and advice of the civil society representatives participating in the process. Heeding these would have most likely averted the Georgian candidate list’s rejection at the Council of Europe.

It is notable that the Council of Europe’s respective committee rejects the candidate list submitted by countries only in the rare and extreme cases, mostly for two reasons: 1) the national competition held by the country is deficient and does not ensure the selection of worthy candidates; 2) the qualification and other characteristics of the selected candidates do not correspond with the requirements of the European Convention for Human Rights.

In the case of Georgia, the Council of Europe decided that not all candidates met the qualification criteria. Such a negative precedent negatively affects the country’s international image. The officials charged with due implementation of the national process and selection of qualified candidates are responsible for this.

The Coalition calls on the government to carefully consider the deficiencies of the previous process and make appropriate changes in the process of composing a new commission, deciding the rules of its work and the working process. This will ensure that the process is vigorous and in accordance with the standards set by the Council of Europe.

The Coalition is ready to cooperate with the relevant authorities to overcome the deficiencies and meeting the above objectives.