CSOs Call for New Rules in Chief Prosecutor’s Appointment

A group of around 40 civil society organizations united in the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary call for reforming the “deficient rules” of chief prosecutor’s selection and urge the authorities to suspend the ongoing selection process led by Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani before fundamentally reforming the appointment procedures.

According to the organizations, recent developments have demonstrated that the system of prosecution and investigation “does not meet the criteria of independence, impartiality and professionalism,” and that the process of chief prosecutor’s selection has not been immune from political influences.

“Under the current system, the Prosecutor’s Office is institutionally dependent on the Ministry of Justice and the Minister personally, who plays a key role in selecting the chief prosecutor and in managing the Prosecutorial Council,” the CSOs said in their statement.

The Coalition members believe that having Tea Tsulukiani run the selection “will not secure the process from political influences.” “Since 2012, none of the candidates nominated by Tea Tsulukiani – Archil Kbilashvili, Otar Partskhaladze, Giorgi Badashvili, Irakli Shotadze – were politically neutral, casting doubt on their impartiality and neutrality,” the statement reads.

The organizations then noted that since the new Constitution of Georgia, which is to come to force upon new president’s inauguration later this year, makes the Prosecutor’s Office an independent body directly accountable to the Parliament and the chief prosecutor elected by the legislature, selecting the chief prosecutor now, for a term of six years, would be “wrong and detrimental” to the new system.

Similar demands were voiced by a group of CSOs united under the Georgian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, with Lasha Tugushi, one of the platform’s leading members, slamming the appointment procedures as “decrepit” and “politicized.” “We think the system should be changed and the new chief prosecutor should be elected through the new system,” he stressed.

The chief prosecutor’s position became vacant after Irakli Shotadze resigned on May 31 following mass demonstration at his office over the controversial Khorava street incident last December. Local CSOs boycott the consultations on selecting the new chief prosecutor and demand Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani’s resignation.

According to article 91 of the Law of Georgia on the Prosecutor’s Office, “in the case of termination of powers of the Chief Prosecutor, the Minister of Justice should start consultations with academic circles, members of civil society and law specialists to select candidates for the position of the Chief Prosecutor.” Following the consultations, the Justice Minister will select and submit to the Prosecutorial Council for approval at least three candidates one-third of whom is of different gender. Voting for each candidate shall take place separately. A candidate who receives the majority of votes, but no less than 2/3 of all members of the Prosecutorial Council shall be approved as the new Chief Prosecutor.

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