War with the West: Georgian opposition on the appointment of judges to High Council of Justice
Vicious cycle in the judiciary
Nika Melia, chairman of Georgia’s largest opposition party the United National Movement, commented on the election of judges from the Georgian Court of Appeal, Levan Murusidze and Dmitry Gvritishvili, to the High Council of Justice. According to Melia, by this election the judiciary and the government of Georgia as a whole demonstrate a refusal to fulfill Europe’s criteria for membership and reform the judiciary. Murusidze and Gvritishvili are considered representatives of the so-called “judicial clan”, and the opposition and the civil sector have accused them for several years of bias and acting on the orders of the government.
Melia considers this election deliberate — the “vicious” judicial system could have proposed a lesser-known candidate, but preferred to “openly and brazenly choose Murusidze.” Melia also called it a challenge to Georgian society and the Western community.
“Levan Murisidze and Dmitry Gvritishvili used to be influential officials in the judiciary, but these elections mean that now it will be easier for them to appoint judges like themselves. This means hundreds of such biased Murusidzes in the judiciary!”
The UNM chairman called on Georgia’s Western partners to “give an appropriate assessment of these facts” and convey their position to the Georgian public.
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Dmitry Gvirtishvili and Levan Murusidze were elected members of the High Council of Justice on October 23. Both were appointed for a period of four years. Gvritishvili was nominated by the judges, while Murusidze was a self-nominated candidate.
Levan Murusidze, a lifelong judge at the Tbilisi Court of Appeal, said he was nominating himself to “personally answer the accusations and fight for the independence of the judiciary.”
In order to obtain the status of an EU candidate country, Georgia has committed itself to fulfilling a twelve-point plan set out by the European Commission. Judicial reform is one of the crucial items of this plan.
“Ensure a judiciary that is fully and truly independent, accountable and impartial at every link in the judicial institutional chain, and ensure the distribution of power. Ensure the proper functioning of all judicial and investigative bodies, especially the Supreme Court, as well as eliminate all identified shortcomings, including at all levels of nomination of candidates for the positions of judges and prosecutors general. Carry out a thorough reform of the High Council of Justice and appoint the remaining members of the Supreme Council. All these measures must fully comply with European standards and recommendations of the Venice Commission,” the European Commission’s plan states.
Vicious cycle in the judiciary