Parliament is Damaging the European Integration Process by Electing Three New Members of the Supreme Court

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The Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary reacts to the election of three new Supreme Court members by the Georgian Parliament, viewing it as another step damaging the European integration process. The recommendations by the European Commission and the Venice Commission, as a part of judicial reforms, call for further improvements in the selection process of Supreme Court judges and integrity checks of judges and judicial candidates. The actions taken by the High Council of Justice and the Parliament are a clear rejection of these recommendations and undermine the country's European future.

The High Council of Justice announced a competition to select Supreme Court judicial candidates on January 24, 2024, following the early termination of Aleksandre Tsuladze's term as a Supreme Court judge. Tsuladze was appointed as Deputy Minister of Education, Science, and Youth of Georgia on December 28, 2023. Additionally, since the terms of two more Supreme Court judges, Nino Bakakuri and Zurab Dzlierishvili, expire in October 2024, the Council deemed it appropriate to announce three vacancies simultaneously, nine months in advance, to "ensure the effectiveness of the selection procedure. "

On May 30, 2024, the High Council of Justice unanimously nominated Badri Shonia, Gocha Jeiranashvili, and Gizo Ubilava to Parliament as candidates for Supreme Court judges.  The public hearing of these candidates took place in the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament on June 20. The parliamentary opposition and civil society representatives did not participate in the hearing. The endorsed candidates were voted for and approved at the plenary session of Parliament on June 27, without public discussions.  Additionally, according to the Parliament's statement, Gizo Ubilava, one of the approved candidates, began exercising his powers on the same day, following the alphabetical order, while the other two members will commence exercising their duties on October 18. 

The selection process of Supreme Court members in Georgia has been criticized by both local civil society and international organizations for years.  The “Charles Michel Agreement” commended the assessment of the reform of the Supreme Court appointment process and the further refinement of the procedures. " The government refused to fulfill this agreement. Ensuring the independence and impartiality of all crucial justice institutions and addressing the flaws of the process of appointing judges, especially Supreme Court nominees, was also pivotal among the twelve recommendations put forth by the European Commission.  However, the Georgian Dream has again disregarded these recommendations, opting instead for superficial changes of a non-essential nature. In addition, the European Commission's November 2023 report stipulated that members of the Supreme Court and judicial candidates should be subjected to integrity checks.  Therefore, the disregard of these recommendations by the High Council of Justice and the Parliament of Georgia, and the selection of Supreme Court judges following the existing routine procedures, clearly contradict the European Union's recommendations. It will be criticized by the EU institutions and will further undermine the already complicated process of European integration.

Successful European integration and the realization of necessary democratic reforms, including fundamental judicial reform, represent an unwavering will repeatedly expressed by the overwhelming majority of Georgian society. The ruling party and all branches of the government must respect this mandate.