PACE Monitors: ‘Parliament must rectify the selection process for Supreme Court judges’

PACE co-rapporteurs Titus Corlatean and Claude Kern paid a fact-finding visit to Georgia on September 17-18. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 25 Sep 2019 - 21:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia welcome steps aimed to make the process of selecting Supreme Court judges more transparent. 

At the same time, they express “serious concern” at the manner in which the High Council of Justice prepared the list of candidates for parliament.

PACE co-rapporteurs Titus Corlatean and Claude Kern paid a fact-finding visit to Georgia on September 17-18. Following the visit they named a number of shortcomings in the process, including:

  • a lack of clear and uniform selection criteria, 
  • excessive discretion by High Council of Justice members in who is selected, 
  • a failure to provide reasoned decisions for both the establishment of the shortlist and the final selection of candidates. 

They said in a joint statement that all these shortcomings could have been avoided if the authorities had fully implemented the recommendations of the Venice Commission, "in particular with regard to secret voting, uniform criteria and reasoned decisions”.

The selection process has moved to parliament, which now has a unique opportunity – and responsibility – to rectify these shortcomings. The parliament should hold open and transparent interviews with the candidates, based on uniform criteria, and come to a well-reasoned decision”, they stated.

Corlatean and Kern underscored that “given the questions that have been raised over the quality of the candidate list, it is important that parliament only appoints the minimum number of judges needed to ensure the proper functioning of the Supreme Court".

The remaining positions should be filled on the basis of a new list of candidates, properly established by the High Council of Justice and preferably after the 2020 parliamentary elections, in line with Venice Commission recommendations", they recommend. 

Photo: Supreme Court's press office

The High Council of Justice of Georgia, a body which is responsible for the selection and appointment of Supreme Court judges released a final list of 20 candidates for lifetime appointment earlier this month. From September 23, legislators started discussing the candidates at individual hearings. 

OSCE/ODIHR said in its recent report that “the nomination and appointment of Supreme Court Judges in Georgia is lacking transparency and accountability despite some positive measures to build public trust in the judiciary”. 

However, Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze promised that legislators will vote on the candidacy of the Supreme Court judges in a transparent manner in line with democratic standards.