Georgian Parliament Speaker urges US to lift sanctions on judges due to “no evidence” against them

The Parliament Speaker said the Georgian Government had been requesting the basis for the move over the past two months, noting “no evidence has been presented so far”. Photo: Shalva Papuashvili’s Facebook, 05 Jun 2023 - 18:54, Tbilisi,Georgia

Shalva Papuashvili, the Georgian Parliament Speaker, on Monday urged the United States Department of State to lift the visa restrictions it imposed on three acting and one former Georgian judges for “significant corruption” in April “as soon as possible”, due to an “absence of evidence” against them. 

In his press comments, the Parliamentary official said the Georgian Government had been requesting the basis for the move over the past two months, adding “no evidence has been presented so far”. 

I call on [the US State Department] to lift the sanctions as soon as possible, as no one should be attacked without evidence, especially judges”, Papuashvili said, pointing to “high standards” in the domestic judiciary. 

He also pointed to the 2019 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on the high-profile dispute over the ownership of the domestic Rustavi 2 TV channel, in which the Court upheld the verdict of Georgian courts, as well as the ECHR’s judgement in April, when it rejected the imprisoned former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s request to be transferred to Poland for treatment, in concurrence with verdicts of the national courts. 

“In both cases [domestic forces] tried to discredit the Georgian judiciary. However, we saw how the disputes were solved [in the ECHR]. The Georgian justice [system] has passed all tests with dignity”, Papuashvili said. 

The State Department on April 5 imposed visa restrictions on three senior acting judges - Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze and Irakli Shengelia - and former judge Valerian Tsertsvadze for their alleged “involvement in significant corruption”.

The release for the ruling said the judges had “abused their positions as court chairmen and members of Georgia’s High Council of Justice, undermining the rule of law and the public’s faith in Georgia’s judicial system”.