Supreme Court Chair fears US sanctions on judges may affect Georgia’s EU integration

  • Nino Kadagidze, the Chair of the Georgian Supreme Court, on Monday expressed her hopes the US would review its decision on sanctioning four Georgian judges., 10 Apr 2023 - 17:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

Nino Kadagidze, the Chair of the Georgian Supreme Court, on Monday expressed her fears the United States Department of State’s sanctions on four Georgian judges could be “used” against the country’s interests ahead of the European Union’s decision this year on whether to grant the country its membership candidate status. 

In a press briefing following Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s meeting with members of the High Council of Justice - an independent body tasked to ensure independence and efficiency of common courts, develop proposals for judicial reform and select and appoint judges across the country - to discuss the sanctions, Kadagidze stressed the Georgian judiciary was “far ahead” of those of several “friendly and allied states”.

She also stressed the domestic courts system was “ahead of several [EU candidate] states in “all aspects and parameters”, even beyond the 12-point conditions outlined by the bloc last year for granting the country its membership candidate status.

I feel concerned that this [sanctions] may be used in the difficult and very valuable, important path for Georgia’s European integration. I have always maintained a special attitude towards our [foreign] partners and friends, I have always been constructive in my relations with them. I think that the moment has come when I demand the same [approach] from them”, Kadagidze said, expressing hope the sanctions would be “reviewed”. 

In reference to her hopes of US authorities reconsidering the sanctions, she said “everyone can make a mistake, but I believe admitting a mistake is only a trait of the strong”.

Kadagidze also said the stage had come for the domestic judiciary when the country’s Government needed to “intervene” through elaboration of the legal framework that would “minimise or eradicate any type of political interference in the court”.

In his comments after the meeting, Garibashvili praised the domestic judiciary and judges and said the US sanctions had raised “question marks” due to a “lack of presented evidence” backing them. 

The State Department last week imposed visa restrictions on judges Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia and former judge Valerian Tsertsvadze for their alleged “involvement in significant corruption”, and said they 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”.

The judges and officials from the ruling Georgian Dream party have called the decision “unfair” and “groundless”.