Statement of the Group of Independent Lawyers on the election of the independent inspector of the High Council of Justice

The election of Shota Kadagidze, a former member of the High Council of Justice, to the position of independent inspector by the same Council is another confirmation that the judicial power of Georgia is in the hands of one specific influential group.

The position of independent inspector has existed in the judicial system since 2017. The independent inspector is the most important figure in the judiciary. He is elected for a 5-year term and carries out preliminary checks and investigations of disciplinary cases against judges. Despite the name, the independent inspector was never independent. This position was always held by persons close to the influential group of the judicial system - Ketevan Tsintsadze (Mikheil Chinchaladze's former assistant) and Zurab Aznaurashvili (also a person close to Mikheil Chinchaladze).

This time too, a person who has proven his loyalty to the influencial group of judges with his past work has been appointed as an independent inspector. He worked for 12 years in various courts, including in the Supreme Court during the time of Mikheil Chinchaladze as a judge. Back in late 2018, he supported the famous 10-man list of candidates for Supreme Court justices, which drew a lot of international and local criticism. The decisions or statements of Shota Kadagidze, who was a member of the High Council of Justice in 2017-2021, were never different from the decisions of the clan (influencial group of judges) in the council. He remained a loyal voice on the Council of Justice for clan policy until the end of his term.

The competition to select Shota Kadagidze as an independent inspector was conducted in a completely opaque manner, neither the identity of the candidates nor their visions were known to the public, and the process of interviewing Shota Kadagidze was closed.

We would like to remind the public that the judicial system has not in fact changed since "Georgian Dream" came to power. It is run by the same group of judges through which the previous ruling party controlled the judicial branch. The leaders of this group - Mikheil Chinchaladze, Valery Tsertsvadze, Irakli Shengelia and Levan Murusidze are currently under visa sanctions of the US State Department for their involvement in corruption and abuse of power.

The creation of an independent and accountable judicial system is not only a necessary prerequisite for the country's development, but also the most important part of the 12-point conditions for integration into the European Union. As part of this condition, the reform package proposed by the government does not address the main challenge in the judicial system, which is the judicial power in the hands of one particular group of judges, which does not allow the majority of judges to be truly involved in the management of the court. The decision to appoint Shota Kadagidze to the position of independent inspector by the High Council of Justice is undemocratic and further distances us from the perspective of improving the judicial system.

The Group of Independent Lawyers is a group consisting of professionals of the justice system (lawyers, former judges, legal experts), whose goal is to improve the judicial system of Georgia through dialogue with the public and advocacy efforts.

Group members are:

1. Ioseb Baratashvili (Practicing Attorney)

2. Maya Bakradze (Former Judge, Practicing Attorney)

3. Tamar Gegelia (Doctor of Law, Professor of the Caucasus University)

4. Irakli Gabrichidze (Practicing Attorney)

5. Khatuna Grigalashvili (Practicing Attorney)

6. Levan Tortladze (Professor in the Institute of Public Affairs)

7. Irma Kakiashvili (Practicing Attorney)

8. Irakli Kordzakhia (Practicing Attorney)

9. Ucha Nanuashvili, Human Rights Center (Former Public Defender of Georgia)

10. Zaza Khatiashvili (Former Chairman of the Bar Association of Georgia, Practicing Attorney)

11. Eka Tsimakuridze (Lawyer, Democracy Index - Georgia)

12. Besik Loladze (Professor, Former Judge of the Constitutional Court of Georgia)

13. Tamar Laliashvili (Professor, Former Judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia)

14. Besik Sisvadze (Former Judge, Practicing Attorney)

15. Lia Mukhashavria (Human Rights Priority, Practicing Lawyer)

16. Natia Kutateladze (Independent Expert, Former Judge)

17. Irakli Shavadze (Practicing Attorney, Former Judge)

18. Tea Khamkhadze (Practicing AttorneyFormer Judge) 

19. Tamaz Jaliashvili (Practicing AttorneyFormer Judge)

20. Davit Jandieri (Practicing Attorney, Former Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia)

21. Kakha Tsikarishvili (Former Member of the Disciplinary Board of Judges)