The Working Group of Judicial Reforms, chaired by Speaker of the Parliament Shalva Papuashvili, convened its first meeting this week to discuss the 12-point recommendations of the European Commission. The meeting was attended by the representatives of parliamentary factions and political groups and discussed two documents drafted by the Georgian Dream and Citizens.
Together with the parliamentary majority, members of the political groups Girchi, Citizens, For Georgia and European Socialists participated in the meeting. Some representatives of the opposition party did not attend. MP Anri Okhanashvili said that the political parties which did not attend the meeting were essentially announcing a “boycott” of the country’s European future.
“Those who refrained from attending today’s meeting seek to undermine the country’s EU perspective. They are not boycotting the Georgian Dream, but the European perspective of the state,” he claimed.
“The majority of the technical work was planned and done by Georgian Dream. They provided their analysis. The main thing is to carry out this process with the involvement of as many people as possible. We have one week to prepare our positions in content and to meet for the first time to talk about the court,” stated Vakhtang Megrelishvili, member of political party Girchi.
MP Ana Buchukuri remarked that organizational and technological issues were the focus of discussion and said she will definitely continue to take part in this procedure.
She added she had learned that applications for open posts in the Supreme Council of Justice were expected to be made public in the autumn.
“Of course, there are other postulates besides the Supreme Council of Justice. For instance, it is crucial to our team that the judges, not the Council, choose the court presidents,” Buchukuri stated.
Working Group for the Study of the Control of Enforcement of Normative Acts to be Created
The Rules and Procedural Issues Committee this week discussed the issue of participation in meeting the requirements set forth by the European Union in order to grant its candidate status to Georgia, and made the decision to begin a study of the control of enforcement of normative acts, including by establishing a working group to further discuss the document obtained as a result of the inquiry.
“With the help of all parties engaged, we will be able to reach a precise outcome on the basis of this document in the working group. We will then be able to turn it into a bill and register it once we know and resolve the challenges that may exist in the form of parliamentary oversight or additional experience that we may consider necessary to share from the best European practices,” the Chair of the Committee, Irakli Kadagishvili, said.
He added that the bill must be registered by September 21 and that, in order to provide parliamentary oversight, the Parliament will make any necessary legislative modifications or other sorts of legislative activities by November 1.
Kadagishvili made the point that, during this time, the Committee will, to the extent of its authority, proactively get in touch with all factions, parliamentary political groups, as well as non-governmental organizations and professionals who work in the field, in order to resolve all issues in a single working group and create the legislative proposals.
Working Group to be Set up in Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee
The Human Rights Protection and Civil Integration Committee set up a working group in order to develop a draft law regarding the proactive publication of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights by Georgian courts.
“A 12-point plan has been provided, and implementation has already started. On our end, we have some projects in the works, the completion of which will allow our state to receive candidate status through the preparation of changes. These changes will lead to an improved framework in many areas, including legislation and practice,” stated Member of Parliament Mikheil Sarjveladze.
Papuashvili: Bill on Proactive Consideration of ECHR Judgements to be Initiated by September 1
“The Bill on Proactive Consideration of ECHR Judgements will be initiated by September 1, and the law will be adopted in the third reading by November 18,” Speaker of Parliament Shalva Papuashvili stated at the extended meeting of the Working Group on Proactive Consideration of ECHR Judgements, where the participants discussed the 11th point of the recommendations of the European Union, which provides for the proactive consideration of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Georgian judicial practice and, accordingly, the preparation of the necessary changes in the legislation.
“We had a constructive discussion about how the law might be changed to reflect this. Ideas will be gathered and afterwards handled as modifications. The proposal is to start the corresponding change by September 1 and pass the law in its third reading by November 18. The meeting’s attendees, for the most part all of them, agreed that in actual practice, judges should utilize rulings, citing them more frequently and not just formally. It is crucial to improve access to case law, for instance, by providing the legal community with translations of court judgments. As a result, it is generally acknowledged that the practice may be improved. There are mechanisms in this respect, including a specific department in the Supreme Court which works to generalize the practice of the European Court of Human Rights and deliver it to judges. The implementation of the eleventh point won’t likely be challenging on its own,” Papuashvili noted.
Joint Statement by Parliamentary Opposition
The parliamentary opposition parties United National Movement, Lelo, Republican Party, For Georgia, and Strategy Builder published a joint statement demanding the fulfillment of the 12-point recommendation.
“We, the undersigned parliamentary opposition, are guided by Article 78 of the Georgian Constitution, which states that the constitutional bodies shall take all measures within their power to ensure Georgia’s full integration into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, taking into account the responsibility entrusted to us by Georgian citizens, the European Union, and the European Commission to fulfill the 12-point recommendation necessary to achieve the goals of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” reads the statement.
Opposition parties appealed to the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, to convene an extraordinary session on July 18, with the following agenda:
1. Amendments to the Constitution of Georgia; Amendments to the Constitutional Law of Georgia (Registration No. 07-3/92);
2. A package of draft laws on the National Anti-Corruption Agency and its accompanying legislative amendments (registration No. 07-3/71);
3. Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts (Registration No. 07-3/96);
4. Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts (Registration No. 07-3/106).
Additionally, the opposition requests the Speaker of Parliament see that the required steps are taken to prepare for the extraordinary session, including expedited scheduling of committee hearings.
“Three of the twelve prerequisites are covered by our proposed agenda (eliminating political polarization, ensuring the full and true independence of the judiciary, creating an anti-corruption agency, and investigating cases of elite corruption). All four of the items we proposed for discussion have previously been brought up in the Georgian Parliament, have been reviewed and approved by the non-governmental sector, and have gotten favorable feedback from our Western allies and international organizations.
“In light of this, the extraordinary session is a significant step towards depolarization and will demonstrate whether the authorities are sincere in their desire to depolarize the processes, transfer the relationships with the opposition and the populace to a format of result-oriented cooperation, or if their objective is to waste time and mimic the process of implementing the European Commission’s proposal.
“At the same time, we would like to emphasize that even if Georgian Dream rejects the practical and business-minded proposal we have offered, we, the parliamentary opposition political parties, as political forces driven by national interests, outside of the government, with widespread support from the interested public and the private sector, will continue to carry out our national task by taking the necessary actions to put the recommendations Georgia needs into practice,” reads the statement.
By Ketevan Skhirtladze