The US State Department has called on the Georgian government to suspend the process of the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, urging the authorities to implement the April 19 EU-mediated agreement which ended months of a political standoff caused by the parliamentary elections of 2020.
The US State Department says that ‘comprehensive, transparent, and inclusive judicial reform’ must be carried out before the process can continue.
The parliament of Georgia appointed six judges out of nine candidates to the country’s Supreme Court on July 12, with the low involvement of opposition parties in the voting process and despite calls for a moratorium from NGOs, the international community and the opposition.
The United States is deeply troubled by the Georgian Parliament’s July 12 approval of six Supreme Court nominees, in contravention of the April 19 agreement between ruling and opposition party representatives,” reads the statement.
US State Secretary Antony J. Blinken has also tweeted on the ongoing process:
The United States is deeply troubled by the Georgian Parliament’s approval of Supreme Court nominees in contravention of the April 19 agreement. Ambitious judicial reform is critical to Georgia's success.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 16, 2021
US State Department reminded the Georgian authorities that the EU-mediated agreement committed its signatories to pause ‘all ongoing appointment to Supreme Court until passage of ambitious judicial reform in a broad, inclusive, and multiparty reform process.’
We [US State Department] urge Georgia’s authorities to implement the April 19 agreement, including by suspending Supreme Court appointments pending comprehensive, transparent, and inclusive judicial reform. This is what Georgia’s political leaders, including the ruling party, agreed to do,” US State Department stated.
The statement also warns the government of Georgia that the failure to implement the April 19 agreement will undermine the Georgian public’s and international community’s confidence in the country’s democratic development and ‘could also weaken investor confidence and diminish the resilience of Georgia’s political and social institutions.’
The United States calls on Georgian authorities to restore their commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law while reinvigorating their partnership with the United States and international community,” said the statement.
US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan noted earlier today that the message from the US State Department should be taken very seriously.
Political leaders, including the ruling party, agreed that the process had to be suspended before inclusive, multi-party judicial reform could take place. It did not happen. And that is why we are so disappointed that judges have been appointed. Parliament could have stopped the process, but it did not,” said Kelly Degnan.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Procedural Issues and Rules Irakli Kadagishvili responded to the statement of the US State Department and noted that during the judicial reform they fully took into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
We need the court to be functioning and not to have about three hundred cases hang on a per judge in the Supreme Court,” Kadagishvili said.
First Deputy of the Parliamentary Committee on Procedural Issues and Rules Guram Macharashvili underscored that the Georgian government has an obligation toward the constitutional bodies to staff the Supreme Court.
Our partners are naturally interested in the development of all institutions, their recommendations are understandable...I would like to remind the opposition that the United States and our western partners have repeatedly expressed concern about the opposition, which did not fulfil its function in the parliament and the United National Movement (opposition party), by the way, has not yet signed the April 19 agreement,” said Macharashvili
The US Embassy to Georgia has also responded to the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court by the Georgian parliament and called it ‘extremely disappointing.’
NGOs claimed that the ruling party does not want the independence of the judiciary following the process of appointment.