Assessment of the Georgian Judicial System (October 2012 - August 2016) - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Assessment of the Georgian Judicial System (October 2012 - August 2016)

12 January, 2017

Tbilisi, 20 September, 2016 – Today Transparency International Georgia published report that provides an overview of significant changes that have been planned and implemented in the Georgian judicial system in the past four years, which enables us to analyze and evaluate the overall situation within the judicial system.  The report covers the period from October 2012 until the end of August 2016, which almost completely coincides with the period between 2012 and 2016 parliamentary elections. The report brings together all of the main findings of research and assessment conducted by Transparency International Georgia and other organizations.

The Georgian judicial system has seen significant improvements in certain areas over the last four years:

  • Significant legislative changes have been made. In particular:
  1. The rules regulating stuffing of the High Council of Justice have been refined.
  2. The functions of the Judicial Conference has been increased, which has increased the role of the judicial self-governance and an individual judge. 
  3. Unreasonably broad powers concentrated in the hands of specific institutions have been distributed.
  4. The transparency of the court system has increased, the audio / video recording of the court hearings was allowed.
  • The number of decisions made in favour of the state has been significantly decreased. For example, the monitoring of administrative cases demonstrated that 79% of the disputes were decided in favour of the state in 2012, while in 2015 this number decreased to 53%.
  • The transparency of the High Council of Justice has been increased. For example, in terms of publication of information on the meetings, availability of decisions and broadcasting of the meetings. 

Despite some significant positive changes, a number of serious problems were also revealed during the reporting period:

  • A 3-year probation period was introduced for appointing judges, which holds significant risks for the independence of the judiciary.  There have also been delays and interruptions in the “third wave” of judicial reform.
  • Significant problems in terms of internal judicial independence have been detected.  A group of judges has formed in the judicial system that has real and effective leverage in influencing major decisions about the system. This has given rise to doubts about clan governance in the judiciary, which undermines the independence of individual judges.
  • Serious shortcomings have been detected regarding the activities of the High Council of Justice, particularly in the process of selection/appointment of judges.  On the one hand this is caused by the vagueness of the legislative framework regulating the activities of the Council, which gives the Council the leverages to make decisions in a nontransparent and unsubstantiated manner, and on the other hand by the failure of the Council to establish a good practice. 
  • The doubt about the independence and impartiality of court has been raised regarding certain high-profile cases, including the case of the TV Company Rustavi 2, the so-called “cables case” and the case of Rustavi Metallurgical Plant.
  • A possible case of improper use of pre-trial detention has been identified. Former Mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava, was kept in pre-trial detention for more than a year without pronouncing a judgement of conviction against him. The chronology of actions taken against Gigi Ugulava and the improper use of the legislative shortcomings on the imposition of a measure of restraint raised questions about political motivations behind the process.
  • The Constitutional Court has not been distanced from the political processes. In the first months after 2012 Parliamentary Elections, the high-ranking government officials used to make positive statements regarding the Constitutional Court, although such rhetoric was soon changed after the Constitutional Court made decisions opposing to the political interests of the government. It was followed by changes in the legislation regulating the Constitutional Court, which significantly damaged the interests of the constitutional control in the country. 

Assessment of the Georgian Judicial System (October 2012-August 2016)