NGOs in Georgia demand resignation of sanctioned judges and investigation of their activities
NGOs in Georgia on sanctioned judges
NGOs are demanding the resignation of four high-ranking Georgian judges who came under the sanctions by the US State Department and an investigation into their activities. As the organizations say, the ruling Georgian Dream party must realize that supporting the influential “clan of judges” seriously harms Georgia’s relations with the United States and threatens the prospect of European integration.
“The US Embassy in Georgia explained that the decision of the Secretary of State of the United States of America to impose sanctions on judges for corrupt activities in the Georgian judiciary is based on reliable information that meets the standards set by US law in order to ban these people from US territory,” an appeal by NGOs reads.
The undersigned public organizations believe that:
- Based on the decision of the State Department and the clarifications of the US Embassy in Georgia, it is necessary to conduct a full and comprehensive investigation.
- The Parliament of Georgia should create an investigative commission to study the facts of corruption and other violations in the judicial system.
- Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
- Civil Idea
- Guardian of the Court of Georgia
- Georgia Reform Association (GRASS)
- Group of independent lawyers
- Democracy Index
- Sanctions against judges in Georgia will have legal and political consequences – a lawyer’s take
- “This is a warning” – foreign experts and politicians on US sanctions against Georgian judges
- “Rule of law violated by corruption” – US Ambassador to Georgia on sanctions against judges
The US State Department imposed sanctions on judges Mikhail Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia and Valerian Tsertsvadze, as well as their family members, and banned them from entering the US “due to significant corrupt activities”, as a statement by Antony Blinken reads.
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Independent experts and human rights activists have noted for years that Levan Murusidze and Mikhail Chinchaladze lead a powerful “clan” of judges that is blocking the reforms needed to strengthen ties between Georgia and the EU. Both judges are associated with an influential body – the High Council of Justice. It is the main supervisory body of the country’s judiciary.
The judges are also believed to be linked to Bidzina Ivanishvili, the richest man in Georgia, founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party and informal ruler of the country.
Murusidze was also distinguished by his loyalty to the previous government – he was a judge in the high-profile case of Sandro Girgvliani during the reign of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement party. Murusudze’s name is also associated with the commutation of sentences for those accused in the murder of Sandro Girgvliani.
A clause on the improvement of the judiciary was also included in the Charles Michel agreement of 19 April. Later, the US Ambassador also made statements several times. However, the government did not stop the process and continued to appoint life judges to the Supreme Court.
On October 31, the conference of judges elected two new members of the High Council of Justice: Paata Silagadze and Giorgi Goginashvili. It is believed that Silagadze and Goginashvili are members of the so-called judicial “clan” and both of them are appointed for life as judges of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal.