US State Department report: Judges vulnerable to political pressure when deciding cases involving politically sensitive topics or individuals

23.04.24 12:39

Although the constitution and law provided for an independent judiciary, the government did not respect the independence of the judiciary and its impartiality in politically sensitive cases. This is stated in the 2023 report on human rights in Georgia, which is published by the US State Department.


According to the report, “judges were vulnerable to political pressure, both inside and outside the court, when deciding cases involving politically sensitive topics or individuals.


“According to the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index, confidence that the judiciary is free from undue government influence is low.


The Office of the Public Defender, the NGO Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Justice, and the international community continued to express concern about the lack of independence of the judiciary. They pointed to problems, including the influence of a group of judges, mostly made up of members of the Supreme Council of Justice and presidents of courts, who allegedly stifled critical voices in the judiciary and hindered proposals to strengthen judicial independence.


Non-governmental organizations called the group of influential, well-connected and non-reformist judges a "clan". Among other problems, they highlighted the influence of the powers of the Supreme Council of Justice on the independence of individual judges, the manipulation of the case allocation system, as well as the lack of transparency in the activities of the Supreme Council of Justice and the flaws in the appointment of judges and court chairmen by the Supreme Council of Justice.


Some former and current judges have publicly stated that they were pressured by senior judges to make certain decisions in specific cases. Analyzing the four waves of judicial reform and other legislative changes since 2013, civil society representatives agreed that due to the lack of political will to create an independent judiciary, the reforms were ineffective, as the vast majority of positive changes in legislation remained unimplemented or only partially implemented.


"On November 8, the European Commission recommended that the European Council grant Georgia EU candidate status on the condition that Georgia implements nine reforms, including effective judicial reform, with special emphasis on the Supreme Council of Justice," the report says.




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