The civil society sector demands openness of the process of selection of judicial candidates - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

The civil society sector demands openness of the process of selection of judicial candidates

02 December, 2015

 

We, the signatory organizations, are applying to the High Council of Justice of Georgia with a demand to ensure the openness of the ongoing competition for the selection of judges and to allow interested persons to attend at the interviews with candidates. As is known, the High Council of Justice is now conducting a large-scale competition for the selection of judges. The competition was announced for 61 vacant judicial positions in the courts of the first instance and appeals courts. According to the procedure of selection of judicial candidates, the first stage of the competition involves verification of documents submitted by candidates, while at the second stage the High Council of Justice interviews the candidates who have passed the first stage.

The process that is now underway at the High Council of Justice and is aimed at the appointment of judges is an object of a particularly high public interest because the competition was announced for several dozens of vacant positions and the country has a system of lifetime appointment of judges. Therefore, the public’s high interest is legitimate and people are entitled to have full information on the candidates and on decisions of members of the Council at every stage of the selection of the candidates.

The public’s trust in the judicial system in Georgia is extremely low. People have serious questions regarding decisions taken by a number of judges. However, a part of these judges still wants to continue the judicial career within the system. Under these circumstances, it is especially sad that the procedures conducted by the High Council of Justice with the aim of appointment, promotion, or transfer of judges as well as malpractice, including the appointment of judges on the basis of non-transparent, unsubstantiated, and biased decisions, have often come under serious criticism.

The list of judicial candidates taking part in the competition was published on the website of the High Council of Justice on October 28, 2015. The Council has yet to publish the biographies of the judicial candidates. As for the schedule of interviews with them, the Council only published it a day before the interviews, continuing the malpractice of late provision of information about its sessions to the public.

Considering the large scale of the ongoing competition of judges and its significance in the formation of independent and impartial judiciary, the particularly high public interest in the issue, and the malpractice established by the High Council of Justice in the process of appointment of judges, we call upon the Council to conduct the ongoing competition openly, transparently, and objectively and to ensure that the public perceives the process as such, so that only highly qualified and worthy candidates whose reputation has never come under question will be appointed to judicial office. To ensure the foregoing, the High Council of Justice should:  

  • publish the biographies of all the judicial candidates taking part in the ongoing competition, in accordance with Article 44 of the General Administrative Code of Georgia which regulates freedom of information and declares any information about candidates nominated to public office to be open and public information;
  • publish the date and time of the interviews with each judicial candidate in the ongoing competition in the manner established by law, at least seven days before the interviews;
  • conduct the interviews with judicial candidates at an open session of the High Council of Justice, in accordance with the established practice;
  • ensure that the sessions of interviews with judicial candidates are open for filming by the media;
  • take all necessary measures to avoid a conflict of interest in the High Council of Justice – to achieve this, it is necessary to remove the Secretary of the High Council of Justice, as a participant in the competition, from the process of examination of issues and decision-making regarding judicial candidates at all stages of the competition;
  • deliberate on information regarding concrete judges, which was mentioned in a public statement [f1] released by the Public Defender, before making decisions on the appointment of judges.

 

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)

Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia)

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)

Article 42 of the Constitution

Human Rights Center (HRC)

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)

Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)

 

print