Venice Commission President Comments on Selection of Judges

President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio says that appointment of judges until their retirement based on clear and transparent criteria and procedures is an essential condition for the independence of the judiciary.

Buquicchio released a statement on the website of the Venice Commission, saying the Commission has received a request for an opinion from the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament regarding the appointment of Supreme Court judges. 

“I welcome the willingness of the Georgian authorities to cooperate with us in order to establish clear and transparent criteria and procedures for the selection and appointment of these judges,” the statement reads.

“The Venice Commission will deal with this request speedily as it is conscious that it is urgent to have a full composition of the Supreme Court to ensure its effective functioning,” the statement reads.

The issue of the selection of judges became controversial after the High Council of Judges (HCOJ) nominated 10 candidate judges for the Supreme Court of Georgia for life tenure in late December. 

The list was disapproved by the non-judge members of the HCOJ, NGOs and some members of the majority, who claimed that the presented judges had been working during the previous government and had the reputation of being “biased and corrupt”. 

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said the discussions on the issue had been postponed until spring, adding that Parliament will define new procedures and criteria for nominating and electing judges, followed by the HCOJ endorsing an updated list of judges based on maximally open and transparent procedures. 

Following increased criticism towards the list of candidates, the judges issued a statement calling on Parliament not to consider their candidacies. 

The judges claimed that “unethical and insulting” statements had been made towards the nominated candidates and these statements “artificially turned into an unprecedented pressure campaign” against judicial power, where direct appeals were made regarding the dismissal of the Supreme Council of Justice and expel of the judges, including ones on the presented list. 

Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stated in late January that society should feel there are objective criteria and procedures for the selection of judges, adding everyone should be involved in the determination of criteria and procedures for said selection. 

By Thea Morrison



13 March 2019 15:02