NGOs Call on President to Name Supreme Court Chair Candidate

The non-governmental sector is calling on the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, to exercise his constitutional right and name the Supreme Court Chair candidate.

The statement of the NGOs came after Margvelashvili said he could not reach consensus with them and so refused to name the candidate.

“The President refused to nominate a candidate for the position of Chief Justice, citing lack of consensus as a reason… following weeks of consultations with civil society. The coalition is critical of the President’s decision not to exercise his constitutional authority and instead shift responsibility to various public groups. Unfortunately, the President has this time failed to set a format of civil society engagement in the nomination process, and without this we cannot consider the President’s decision as motivated,” the statement of the NGOs, united under the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary, reads.

The post of the Supreme Court Chair became vacant when Former Chairperson of the Court, Nino Gvenetadze, resigned in early August. Selected for the post by President Margvelashvili and approved by Parliament in 2015, she said in a special statement that medical treatment required a several-month stay abroad and announced she was resigning due to health issues. She was to have held the post for ten years. 

The NGOs explain that according to the current Constitution, the President of Georgia has the authority to nominate a candidate for Chief Justice, adding the new constitutional amendments that enter into force upon swearing in of the new President after October 28 elections give this authority to the High Council of Justice. 

“The Chief Justice nominated and appointed according to the new rules will no longer serve as the Chair of the High Council of Justice. This will further significantly strengthen the concentration of forces of the influential group of judges and will lead to further increasing of risks of the system’s closure,” the organizations say.

They call on Margvelashvili to execute his constitutional authority timely and effectively and ensure nomination of a candidate who would enjoy wide public support.

The Coalition expressed readiness to actively get involved in consultations again for nomination and support of a candidate.

“We also call on the Parliament of Georgia to ensure that the hearings on the nominee and appointment are held during the coming session,” the statement reads.

On August 24, the Head of the President’s Administration, Giorgi Abashishvili stated that consensus on the candidacy of the Chairman for the Supreme Court has not been achieved. According to him, the nomination of a candidate without an extensive consensus would not make sense, nor would it be result oriented, as the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party rejected the consultations and did not participate in them.

Abashishvili said that for this reason, Georgian President Margvelashvili decided not to name a candidate for the post of Supreme Court Chair.

By Thea Morrison

03 September 2018 10:00