Parliament’s failure today to approve the Constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring broad, multi-party support for an impartial Prosecutor General is another missed opportunity to increase the independence, transparency, and integrity of Georgia’s judiciary. The proposed change in the appointment process was recommended for Georgia by the Venice Commission, an international body of legal experts, in a report requested by Parliament, as well as other international experts. Equally as important, all of the political parties that signed the April 19 Agreement, including Georgian Dream, committed to make this change, to increase the public’s confidence in the independence of the Prosecutor General from political interference.
We take note of opposition leaders’ comments that they were unable to support this important amendment to the Prosecutor General appointment process in order to retain the ruling party’s votes for the other important Constitutional amendments called for in the April 19 Agreement, which pertain to fully proportional elections, a two percent threshold, and factions. Georgian Dream’s refusal to support the Prosecutor General amendment contradicts the party’s July 28 reiteration of its commitment to implement the judicial reforms and adopt the Constitutional amendments laid out in the April 19 Agreement. This is yet another broken promise by the ruling party to make the much-needed judicial reforms that Georgian Dream and opposition party leaders have pledged, of their own accord, to adopt.
The people of Georgia deserve an impartial, independent judiciary that is not used for political purposes. With an impartial judicial system, the public can have confidence that election results will be upheld fairly, business disputes will be resolved without favoritism, and political opponents will not be targeted unjustly for prosecution. Those qualified professionals in the Prosecutor’s Office, and the court system more broadly, should be allowed to uphold the law without political pressure. The Constitutional amendment reforming the appointment process for the Prosecutor General would have been an important step toward that goal.
Georgian Dream and opposition parties pledged to renew their efforts to work together in Parliament in good faith to implement key reforms to the judicial system. They should follow through on their commitment to conduct an inclusive, multi-party assessment of the previous waves of judicial reform and develop initiatives that will further improve judicial transparency, impartiality, and accountability. These reforms are essential for Georgia’s European integration and, more importantly, for ensuring the people of Georgia have the impartial, professional justice system they deserve.