12 December 2019,   00:05
Public Defender demands the rule of selection of Supreme Court judicial candidates to be declared unconstitutional

The Public Defender has filed a constitutional lawsuit with the Constitutional Court of Georgia and requested that the rule of selection of Supreme Court judicial candidates by the High Council of Justice be declared unconstitutional.

Nino Lomjaria considers that the procedure for selecting Supreme Court judicial candidates violates the constitutionally guaranteed rights of a Georgian citizen to hold public office (Constitution, 25-1), to have access to a fair trial (Constitution, 31-1, first sentence) and the principle of an independent and impartial trial (Constitution, 31-1).

The constitutional lawsuit is based on the findings of the Venice Commission and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), as well as the factual circumstances identified as a result of monitoring the selection process (by the Public Defender of Georgia, OSCE/ODIHR).

According to the Ombudsman, the selection rule fails to exclude the risk of arbitrariness, as under the disputed norm, the secret ballot does not oblige the High Council of Justice to substantiate its decision, namely why it favored one candidate and rejected the other. In the absence of the right to appeal, the Supreme Court judicial candidates are unable to prove in court that their rejection was wrong. The rule fails to ensure a fair process and candidates who meet the requirements of the law are unjustifiably prevented from being selected in accordance with their own professional or other personal advantages.

In the constitutional lawsuit, the Public Defender also demands that the Constitutional Court of Georgia suspend the disputed norms until the case is fully resolved.

The Supreme Council of Justice of Georgia continues the process of selection of candidates for the Supreme Court by secret ballot. Voting was held again on October 31, 2019 and three candidates were nominated for one vacancy.