NGOs react to the Prime Minister’s Comments about a Judge

With this statement we react to comments made by the Prime Minister today, expressing hope that the Supreme Court Chair will take interest in the case of Rustavi Metallurgical Plant whose property has been seized for the debt of 4500 GEL owed by the plant. The Prime Minister also stated that the judge who presided over the case should publicly explain the decision. 

We would like to note that the head of the government and high ranking officials attacking judges, implying directly or indirectly what their favorable outcome of the case is, and exerting any other influence over the process of administration of justice sets dangerous precedent for judicial independence. Judges must be independent in their work, and abide by Constitution and law only. Any influence exerted on judges or interference with their work with the aim of influencing the decision is prohibited and is punishable by law. No one including the Supreme Court Chair has the right to hold a judge answerable for his/her decisions in a particular case. This is guaranteed by the Constitution; otherwise, independent judiciary would not exist. 

It is important for the public and political office holders to realize role of the Supreme Court Chair and judicial institutions. It is not the responsibility of the Supreme Court Chair to control judges and hold them answerable. The chair, who also serves as the head of the High Council of Justice, may participate in disciplinary proceedings brought against a judge; however, s/he has no right to use repressive methods individually, against judges. 

In this light, we believe that comments like these influence position of the Supreme Court Chair and other judiciary bodies, harming the reputation of the executive authorities. Further, similar political messages obstruct the process of improvement in the judiciary system and increase subordination between judges and the Supreme Court Chair. 

It is the High Council of Justice that takes actions on disciplinary violations committed by individual judges. The Council is obligated to launch disciplinary proceedings and review complaints filed against an individual judge, if there are any. Timely, effective and substantiated measures taken by the Council and disciplinary bodies on each individual act of violation should contribute to building public trust and the trust of judges in the system of disciplinary proceedings in the judiciary; currently the level of trust is rather low. 

The Council must take actions against alleged pressure of judges and prevent any improper influence on the process of administration of justice, both by the judicial authorities as well as other branches of the government. 

We urge the head of the government as well as other political office holders to respect principles of judiciary independence and refrain from making any such statements in the future. 

Article 42 of the Constitution

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center

Transparency International – Georgia

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association

Center for Human Rights

Civil Development Agency

Business and Economy Center

Open Society Georgia Foundation

Georgian Bar Association

Partnership for Human Rights 

Foundation for Civil Integration

Bar Association

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information

Civic Engagement Institute