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A plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia was held on 1 May 2013. The main issue on the agenda of the session was to override the presidential veto of the draft Law on Courts of General Jurisdiction.

President Saakashvili used the veto power for the first time in the history of independent Georgia. In December 2012, he used the right under Article 68 of the Constitution and vetoed the Law on Amnesty. Later, the Georgian President used the veto power on the draft Law on Courts of General Jurisdiction.

Akaki Minashvili, one of the leaders of the United National Movement and members of the Parliamentary Minority, referred to the clause in the Law on Courts of General Jurisdiction which states that upon the enactment of the law, the current members of the Council of Justice will be required to leave their office. Minashvili noted: “The attempt to use political influence on the judiciary is very obvious. You are trying to interpret the norms of the Venice Commission in an irrelevant way. However, it is obvious that the dissolution of the Council of Justice is unacceptable for the experts of the Venice Commission.”

After heated discussions and debates, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the Law on Courts of General Jurisdiction on 5 April 2013 with its third reading. According to the legislative changes, photo, audio or video recording will be authorised in the courts. Similarly, the rule of composition of the Council of Justice will be changed and the authority of the current members of the Council will be terminated upon the enactment of the Law.

FactCheck

wondered whether or not the Venice Commission was actually opposing the dissolution of the Council of Justice before the end of the term.

We have reviewed the Venice Commission report on the organic amendments to the Law on Courts of General Jurisdiction.  We read the the following part of the report which focuses on the termination of the authority of the sitting composition of the High Judicial Council (Articles 68, 69):

Article 68

During the visit, it was explained to the delegation of the Venice Commission by the proponents of these amendments that they wish to implement this measure because they regard the existing composition of the High Council of Justice as so flawed that any significant reform of the judiciary can only be achieved through a complete renewal of the Council.

Article 69

The Commission recalls that an important function of judicial council is to shield judges from political influence. For this reason, it would be inconsistent to allow for a complete renewal of the composition of a judicial council following the parliamentary elections.

Conclusion According to the report of the Venice Commission, protecting judges from political influence is an important issue; since this function is entitled to the Council of Justice, the early dismissal of the current composition of the Council is unjustifiable. We rate Akaki Minashvili’s statement: “It is obvious that the dissolution of the  Council of Justice is unacceptable for the experts of the Venice Commission,” TRUE.