EU Commissioner Urges Authorities to Strengthen Independent Judiciary

Following his visit to Georgia, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has released his report and highlighted that the country should continue strengthening its independence and the impartiality of judges.

“Judicial reforms have yielded some positive results in Georgia, in particular as concerns the reduced influence of the prosecutorial authorities, the increased transparency in the work of the High Council of Justice and an improved juvenile justice system. However, long-standing structural problems still require serious attention, particularly with a view to upholding the independence and effective functioning of the judiciary”, Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights stated in his observations addressed to the Prime Minister of Georgia today.

The observations are based on the Commissioner’s latest visit to Georgia, held from the 9th to 13th November, which assessed the implementation of the recommendations set out in his 2014 report.

Muiznieks emphasized that shielding judges from internal and external interference is a priority.

The Commissioner was informed of specific cases of alleged pressure and interference with the work of judges of the Constitutional Court in relation to decisions they have taken.

Muiznieks is particularly concerned about allegations of politically-motivated measures targeting members of the opposition, especially in regard to the use of pre-trial detention measures against them.

Despite some improvements in the selection, appointment and dismissal procedures of the Chief Prosecutor, issues remain related to the work of this key institution in the field of criminal justice.

“Resolute efforts are called for to increase the impartiality and accountability of the work of prosecutors and law enforcement officials,” the report stated.

Muiznieks urged the Georgian authorities to make more effective use of the existing anti-discrimination legislation and mechanisms.

“They should speed up the adoption of the legislative amendments currently pending before the Parliament, as they would provide the Public Defender with broader powers in combating discrimination, including in the private sector,” he continued.

Furthermore the Commissioner has urged the Georgian authorities to improve their responses to hate crimes and hate speech, including such crimes on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to ease tensions between majority and minority religious groups concerning issues related to religious properties and places of worship.

The Commissioner encourages the Georgian authorities to engage in a genuine dialogue with all religious denominations and to tackle the identified issues following a human rights-based approach.

Photo: Council of Europe

13 January 2016 17:13