News

20
January2020

The Coalition Criticizes the Independent Inspector’s Selection Process

After electing the previous Independent Inspector as a Supreme Court justice, the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) announced a competition for selecting the new Independent Inspector.[1] The period of December 17 through December 26 was set for submitting applications.[2] According to current regulations, the HSOJ has to announce the competition for the post no later than one month after termination of the Independent Inspector’s tenure.[3] However, the time-period for accepting applications is not defined. It has emerged, that the HCOJ conducted interviews with candidates on January 14-15 behind closed doors, without publishing any information on its web-page regarding the candidates who were invited to the second round of selection or the interviews.

The identity of the candidates remains unknown and due to the closed nature of the interviews, civil society organization representatives were not given an opportunity to observe the interview process. Given the influence of the clan in the judicial system and the devious deals between the clan and the ruling party, the opaque selection process will further reduce the public’s trust towards the selected candidate.

The Independent Inspector’s position was created as part of the “third wave” of judicial reforms and was tasked with impartial and thorough investigation and initial review of alleged disciplinary violations by judges.[4] Unfortunately, the legislation does not provide for the independence guarantees of the Independent Inspector’s needed to fulfill these tasks. The Inspector is selected by a simple majority of the full composition of the HCOJ and the non-judge members of the HCOJ do not have any influence over the selection and appointment processes.[5]

Moreover, the selection rules set by the HCOJ do not specify a range of key issues: how the second stage of the competition is to be conducted (the criteria, rules for interviews, the areas covered at interviews, evaluation and its substantiation); and the main principles for the interviews (objectivity, openness, prohibition of discrimination, avoidance of conflict of interests, etc.).[6] These flaws allow the HCOJ a wide area for unrestrained activity, which was also confirmed by the selection process of the previous Independent Inspector.[7]

In light of these circumstances, the Coalition calls on the High Council of Justice to stop the Independent Inspector’s selection competition and resume it only after adopting comprehensive rules for the competition. Also, the HCOJ must ensure that the candidate biographies are published during the selection process and that their interviews are conducted at an open session.

 



[1] HCOJ decision #1/346 of December 13, 2019 on the announcement of the competition for the post of the Independent Inspector, available in Georgian at: http://hcoj.gov.ge/files/pdf%20gadacyvetilebebi/2019%20-%20gadawyvetilebebi/346.pdf, last accessed 17.12.2019.

[2] ibid.

[3] HCOJ regulations, Article 272.10, available at https://bit.ly/2QZ3XFK last accessed 17.12.2019

[4] Organic Law on the Common Courts of Georgia, Article 511.1

[5] For the assessment of the procedures of the Independent Inspector’s appointment, see Nozadze, N., and Shermadini, O. High Council of Justice Monitoring Report #7, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Transparency International Georgia, Tbilisi, 2019, pp 50-51.

[6] ibid.

[7] The Coalition Criticizes the Independent Inspector Selection Competition for the Lack of Transparency.  available at: http://coalition.ge/index.php?article_id=171&clang=1