TBILISI, DFWatch–Parliament in Georgia has overturned President Saakashvili’s veto against legislative amendments about judicial reform.
Those behind the amendments claim that they serve to depolarize the court system.
According to the draft, which has been passed once by parliament, judges will elect the members of the High Council of Justice, a body which controls the courts, through secret ballot. Government officials will not have the right to individually appoint council members.
Sandro Baramidze, Deputy Justice Minister and co-author of the bill, thinks that the new principle for selecting council members will free the court system from political influence.
“The new rule for electing members of the High Council of Justice gives us a guarantee that certain persons will no longer have levers of influence over the court system,” Mindia Ugrekhelidze, former chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia and former judge at European Court of Human Rights, told DF Watch.
The United National Movement (UNM) said the reason the president used his veto is that the previous members of the High Council of Justice shouldn’t leave yet.
The Venice Commission also recommended that the new rules not be made applicable to serving council members, but the ruling coalition claims that in order to restore justice it is necessary to immediately enforce the new regulations.
An alternative draft bill presented by the president failed to get enough votes in parliament. Instead the majority voted for the previous version of the bill, thus overturning his veto.
Now the bill will be sent back to the president for signing. If he again refuses to sign the bill, the speaker of parliament will sign it and this way enforce it, like what happened with the amnesty law in the beginning of 2013.
“This means that errors in the court system will be corrected. The goal of the UNM was to control the court system, and they did that through mechanisms that are still in force, but this will change after the new bill comes into force,” Ugrekhelidze says.
But UNM claims that the new reform will make it possible for Ivanishvili’s coalition to control the courts.
Akaki Minashvili from the UNM claims that this is an attempt to establish political influence over court system.