GEO

Manifesto - For Saving Justice

25 February, 2019

 

According to the Constitution of Georgia, the main goal of the people of Georgia is to establish a democratic social order, economic freedom, a rule-of-law based social State, to secure universally recognized human rights and freedoms,

Worlds historical experience proves that this goal cannot be achieved without an independent, free, accountable and fair judicial system. The main pillar of this system is individual judge, which, according to the Constitution should enjoy integrity and competence.

Since the acquisition of independence, Georgia could not manage to create an independent judiciary for various reasons. Georgian society fully understands this reality as well as the importance solving this problem, the clear corroboration of which is the fact that despite the grave social and economic situation, the main reason of public protest has always been the demand of restoration of justice.

From 2004, the judiciary got rid of the systemic corruption but has found itself under total control of the executive power. It turned into an unfair system characterized by political obedience.

After the shift of political power in 2012, the judiciary had an opportunity to restore its independence, implement the principles of self-government and political independence, restore public trust. However, in addition to other factors, the absence of real political will to liberate the judiciary and fragmented and incorrect reforms made impossible the achievement of judicial independence in Georgia.

Within the judicial system, the power was seized by the same group of individuals – the “clan”, through which the previous government totally controlled the judiciary. Since 2012, this group occupied all judicial vacancies in the High Council of Justice and seized all important administrative positions in the judicial system. They entered into the alliance with 3 nonjudge members of the High Council of Justice, which never contradict and always agree with the decisions of the clan. In the light of legitimate questions and severe criticism regarding the Council, Venice commission has raised the issue of reforming the Council while evaluating the constitutional reform.

Past few years’ experience corroborates that the clan systematically violates and misinterprets the law, abuses legislative gaps. It is impossible to reverse or modify the decisions adopted by the clan by lawful means because the entire judicial system is controlled by the clan. Therefore, there is no more hope that the judicial system can be recovered through adopting the best legislation in the world.

In December 2018, since the adoption of the new version of the Constitution, the Georgian society was encountered with a substantially new threat. The group dominating judiciary, which was an instrument of the control of judiciary in the hands of the previous government, now acquired the possibility to staff the Highest court of the country through lifetime appointments.

This group has already demonstrated its intentions and lustrated itself by adopting decisions contrary to the will of the public, including the lifetime appointment of the symbol of obedient judge – Levan Murusidze and presenting to the parliament the list of Supreme Court candidates, which was created secretly, in the absence of all due criteria and in violation of fair procedures.

Therefore, there is a real danger that the society will lose the last chance of formation of the independent judiciary and for dozens of years, the judicial system will find itself under the government of the clan.

Based on all the above mentioned, we request:

  1. Immediate resignation of all judicial members of the High Council of Justice, as well as the resignation of all other members elected by the Parliament, which voted for the nomination of the 10 judge member list to the Parliament in December 2018.
  2. Immediate resignation of the leader of the clan – Chair of the Court of Appeals and the symbol of “obedient judge” – Levan Murusidze.
  3. Creation of regulations, procedures, and criteria by Georgian Parliament in the participation of the civil society and opposition, which shall ensure the nomination and appointment of best candidates in the Supreme Court.
  4. The selection and nomination of the candidates for Supreme Court vacancies should be only done after the renewal of the composition of the High Council of Justice and drafting of adequate procedures and criteria for the selection of judges.