EU refuses to attend hearings of candidates for Georgian Supreme Court in parliament

Foreign embassies have called on Georgia to pause the election of new judges to the Georgian Supreme Court. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 25 Nov 2021 - 13:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

The EU representation to Georgia has refused to attend the hearings of candidates for Georgian Supreme Court judge in the state legislature, as the European Union has been calling on Georgia for several months to carry out a fundamental judiciary reform first. 

We have been invited to attend the process in parliament. However, we refused to accept. We have urged the country’s leadership to carry out a large-scale judiciary reform first and only afterward select and appoint judges,” EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell stated earlier today. 

Despite calls from the international community and local NGOs, the High Council of Justice, an independent body which is responsible for selecting and appointing judges across the country, has presented four candidates to occupy vacant positions in the country’s Supreme Court. 

The Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee is now interviewing the candidates as the state legislature approves judges for the Supreme Court with at least 76 (of a total 150) votes. 

Georgian NGOs also released a joint statement today in which they said that electing new judges to the Supreme Court ‘must be paused’ until the country’s judiciary system  is reformed. 

The NGOs stated that the existing system fails to select and appoint ‘unbiased judges’ to the Supreme Court, and that candidates are selected in accordance with their relationship with influential judges (a clan of judges) rather than their experience or qualification. 

The EU-mediated agreement, which was signed by the ruling Georgian Dream party and a majority of opposition parties in April 2021 to resolve an election-related political crisis, obliged the signatories to ensure large-scale electoral and judiciary reforms. 

The ruling party withdrew from the agreement in July of this year. However, the party says that they have already taken ‘major steps’ to reform the country’s judiciary and vowed the process will be ‘successfully completed.’