DRI: The implementation of the European Commission’s recommendation relating to judicial reform is formal and misses the content of the recommendation
One of the key issues in the recommendations issued by the European Commission for granting the status of a candidate country for EU membership to Georgia is related to judicial reform.
Necessary preconditions for the implementation of the recommendation were fundamental changes to the Law on Common Courts and adoption of a judicial reform strategy and action plan.
On August 4, 2022, a judicial reform working group was set up in the Legal Issues Committee to work on judicial reform issues. Seven public organizations expressed their desire to get involved in the working group, however, not all of them were given the opportunity to participate in the work of the group. Although the process was formally inclusive, the ruling party did not allow the involvement of all interested public organizations in the working group.
The group developed documents, which formally conform to the plan presented by Georgian Dream, but in terms of content, they fail to meet the recommendation of the European Commission. This leaves the impression that Georgian Dream has not had interest in fulfilling the recommendation of the European Commission from the very beginning.
The ruling party slightly violated the deadlines of its own plan - Draft Law on Common Courts was registered in the Parliament on November 9, 2022. However, the part of the plan, according to which the Parliament of Georgia should have elected 5 non-judge members of the High Council of Justice by November 15, 2022, has not been fulfilled so far. Therefore, notwithstanding the request of the European Commission, the High Council of Justice continues its activities with an incomplete composition.
Judicial reform strategy and action plan
On October 3, 2022, the Legal Committee presented a judicial reform strategy and action plan
The document represents a list of points and does not take into account the content of the measures to be carried out under the action plan, deadlines, responsible persons or monitoring mechanisms, which is a problem not only in terms of the structure of the document, but also makes it impossible to determine its specific content or evaluate its effectiveness.
The document provides for the expansion of the jury institute, the easing of courts through the strengthening of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, strengthening of social security guarantees for judges, improvement in services, etc. These are positive steps, but do not respond to the EU's recommendation to ensure the independence of the entire chain of justice and a large-scale reform of the Council of Justice. The document says nothing about this.
Draft Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts
In order to comply with Article 3 of the European Commission, the working group set up at the Legal Committee of the Parliament of Georgia drafted Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common
Courts, which were registered in the legislative body on November 9.
The draft law improves the transparency standard for the appointment of judges of the lower instance, however, it does not respond to the important recommendations included in the OSCE/ODIR report at all,
even though the European Commission's recommendations directly oblige the State to take them into account.
Parliament.ge (website), available at: https://bit.ly/3k0MbnQ
Parliament.ge (website), Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia, N 07-3/265/10, 09.11.2022, available at: https://parliament.ge/legislation/25094