EU and US Ambassadors to apply Parliament Speaker with joint letter
EU and US Ambassadors to apply Parliament Speaker with joint letter

The European Union Ambassador Carl Hartzell and US Ambassador Kelly Degnan applied to the Georgian Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava with a joint letter. Georgian lawmakers also received the copy. The joint letter is about the judicial reform.

“Dear Speaker Kuchava,

We want to begin by welcoming your strong commitment to the implementation of the 19 April Mediation Agreement, particularly in terms of the involvement of the opposition in the major reform processes. Your role and engagement are critical and of the highest importance.

In the Mediation Agreement, the political parties committed to adopt ambitious judicial reform. The parties notably agreed to pause the process of appointments to the Supreme Court and to adopt substantive reform of the High Council of Justice, including in appointments, appraisals, promotions, transfers, disciplinary measures, and appeals.

Importantly, the parties committed to carry out further judicial reform through an inclusive process and to seek international advice and support for implementation of these reforms, in particular regarding the integrity of appointees, including appointees to the High Council of Justice and Supreme Court.

Accordingly, in line with the 19 April Mediation Agreement, the parliament has a key role in prioritizing amendments to the legislation concerning appointments to the Supreme Court and High Council of Justice. The amendments would benefit from the relevant Council of Europe standards in the light of the advice already provided by the international experts, including in the latest Venice Commission’s Opinion. We also recall that this is a strict condition for the upcoming disbursement of EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia. Further, the spirit of the 19 April Mediation Agreement would be upheld, should the amendments be adopted before appointing any new members to the High Council of Justice and before the latter starts voting on the candidates to the Supreme Court. Indeed, an immediate pause in both appointment processes would demonstrate a genuine commitment to improve the transparency and trust in the Judiciary.

From our side, we stand ready to provide this international advice and support as foreseen in the agreement, including on the integrity of the appointees.

The parties to the 19 April agreement committed to fulfil the agreement’s terms in good faith, including adopting ambitious judicial reform through a broad, inclusive, and cross-party process. We call on the parliament to start inclusive discussions on the institutional reform of the High Council of Justice and, accordingly, to revise the rules for judicial appointments to courts, for handling disciplinary measures against judges, and to introduce transparent and comprehensive systems of appraisals, promotions, and transfers of judges and judicial staff in line with international standards and best practices. These discussions should include civil society, the Georgian Bar Association, the Public Defender, and the opposition.

Thank you in advance for your commitment to upholding, as Speaker, the letter and spirit of the 19 April Mediation Agreement. Your efforts to engage the Members of Parliament and all other stakeholders in inclusive discussions will be essential to ensuring the full and effective implementation of the judicial section of the Mediation Agreement,” reads the joint letter.