Candidates for the position of a judge of the European Court of Human Rights
On February 29, 2016, interviews conducted with the aim of selecting applicants for the position of a judge of the European Court of Human Rights were completed. As a result of the interviews, the Government Commission selected five out of 12 candidates based on the highest scores. The candidates for the position of the judge representing Georgia at the Strasbourg Court were interviewed by the Government Commission specially established for this purpose which was headed by the Minister of Justice. We will try to give a brief description of the process of selection of the candidates.
The Government Commission
By Ordinance No. 623 of December 14, 2015, the Government of Georgia approved the Procedure of Selection of Candidates for the Position of the Judge of the European Court of Human Rights to Be Selected from Georgia. A Government Commission was set up in accordance with the ordinance. The Commission included:
- Thea Tsulukiani, Chairperson of the Commission, Minister of Justice;
- Khatuna Totladze, Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs;
- Shalva Tadumadze, Parliamentary Secretary of the Government of Georgia;
- Mamuka Vasadze, First Deputy Chief Prosecutor of Georgia;
- Eka Beselia, Chairperson of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia;
- Vakhtang Khmaladze, Chairperson of the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia;
- Mzia Todua, Deputy Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia;
- Ucha Nanuashvili, Public Defender of Georgia;
- Zaza Khatiashvili, Chairperson of the Georgian Bar Association;
- Irakli Burduli, Dean of the Law Faculty of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University;
- Ana Natsvlishvili, representative of the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary.
In accordance with the aforementioned ordinance, the members of the Commission assessed the candidates independently and gave them scores. On the basis of the scores given by the Commission members, each candidate was given an average score.
Selection of candidates
As a result of the interviews, the Government Commission selected five candidates (Alexander Baramidze, Nana Mchedlidze, Giorgi Badashvili, Anna Dolidze and Eva Gotsiridze) out of 12 based on the highest scores. The following applicants failed to make it to the top five candidates: Giorgi Papuashvili, President of the Constitutional Court; Konstantine Korkelia, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the Council of Europe; Irakli Adeishvili, former judge of the Tbilisi City Court; Maka Stevenson, Head of the Department of Equality at the Public Defender’s Office; Nikoloz Legashvili, lawyer of NGO Article 42 of the Constitution; and Luiza Khitarishvili, Head of the Department of International Relations and Euro-Atlantic Integration at the Ministry of Defense of Georgia. According to Paragraph 6, Article 7 of the Government’s ordinance, at all stages of selection, the identity of the participating candidates, the documents they have submitted to the Commission, the test results, and interview assessments, as well as the decisions and protocols of the Commission, are public and should be published. In spite of this, the aforementioned documents are yet to be published, and the Ministry of Justice has only publicized the scores given to Giorgi Papuashvili. Judging by the significance of the position of a judge of the European Court of Human Rights, it is interesting to review the candidates’ biographies, the more so that, by the decision of the Commission, some of the worthy candidates who have worked in the area of human rights for years failed to make it to the top five candidates.
Eva Gotsiridze has been a member of the High Council of Justice since 2013. In spite of open protest of the civil society, she supported the election of Levan Murusidze to the Tbilisi Court of Appeals on December 25, 2015. According to her, the main argument in favor of Mr. Murusidze was that he was supported by the judicial corps. Before being elected to the Court of Appeals, Levan Murusidze was a judge of the Supreme Court and took part in the examination of the high-profile case of the murder of Sandro Girgvliani, as well as in the case of Sulkhan Molashvili, the former head of the Chamber of Control.
It should be noted that the ECHR found that the State of Georgia had violated the European Convention in the Girgvliani case. As for the case of Molashvili, on March 11, 2014, the applicant and the Government of Georgia concluded a friendly settlement in the ECHR. The Government of Georgia was made obligated to pay EUR 20,000 for the benefit of Sulkhan Molashvili, and the Government also acknowledged a violation of articles of the Convention, including the right to a fair trial, in relation to the applicant.
Eva Gotsiridze also made harsh statements about the developments related to the legal proceedings on the case of Rustavi 2. Along with other non-judge members of the High Council of Justice, she noted that the assessments of the court decision and the concrete judge, including those made by the non-governmental sector, caused enormous damage not only to the independence of the judiciary, but also to other principles of democracy and to the sustainability of public institutions. In her opinion, it is acceptable to restrict freedom of expression in order to protect the authority of the judiciary, and both the judiciary and the media understand freedom in a vulgar fashion. It should be noted that the non-governmental sector criticized her statements about freedom of expression that had been made in the context of the case of Rustavi 2, while in some cases she made incorrect references to the practice of the ECHR in connection with this issue. Eva Gotsiridze obtained a Ph.D. in international law in Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in 2006.
Alexander Baramidze has held the position of the First Deputy Minister of Justice since the 2012 parliamentary elections. It should be noted that the Government Commission for the selection of the judge representing Georgia at the Strasbourg Court was headed by Thea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice. In the years 2011-12, prior to being appointed the deputy minister, Alexander Baramidze provided the Georgian Dream political coalition with legal services. In 2004-2011, he worked as a lawyer in the Andronikashvili & Partners law firm. He graduated from the Law Faculty of Tbilisi State University in 2002. Prior to that, in 1993, he had graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the same university.
Anna Dolidze was appointed the Deputy Minister of Defense of Georgia in May 2015. In parallel with participation in the competition for the position of an ECHR judge, on February 25, 2016, she was also nominated by the President of Georgia for the position of a judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia. In spite of this, she was interviewed as an applicant for the position of an ECHR judge on February 29, 2016, and made it to the top five candidates. In 2004-06, Anna Dolidze served as the Head of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA). She holds a Doctorate in Law from Cornell Law School. Ms. Dolidze has cooperated with various international organizations since 2007. According to members of the United National Movement, her cooperation with Russia Justice Initiative – which filed complaints against the State of Georgia in the ECHR, arguing that Georgia had deliberately killed Russian citizens during the bombardment of Tskhinvali – raises questions. Anna Dolidze has explained that she did cooperate with the said organization, though she did not work on the aforementioned cases.
Nana Mchedlidze holds an M.A. in law from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and an LL.M. in human rights law from the University of Warwick. In 2007-2008, she also obtained an LL.M. in international public law and European law from Utrecht University.
In 1995-2000, Nana Mchedlidze worked in the Georgian Young Lawyers Association. Later, in 2001-2007, she was the Head of the Human Rights Department at the Constitutional Court of Georgia. In 2008-2009, she became a legal expert of UNDP Georgia, and in 2009-2012, she served as a specialist of law in the same organization. Since 2012, Nana Mchedlidze has worked as a researcher on the European Court of Human Rights at the Tbilisi City Court. She also works at the Legal Department of the U.S. Embassy to Georgia.
Information about the biography of Giorgi Badashvili is not available on the Internet. The Government Commission has not published the biographies of the competition participants. As we learned from the hotline of the Ministry of Justice, Giorgi Badashvili has worked as a lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights for eight years. It should be noted that the Chairperson of the Government Commission, Thea Tsulukiani, also worked as a lawyer of the ECHR in the years 2000-2010.