Kobakhidze Slams ‘NGO Clan’ Over Judiciary Criticism

The Georgian Dream party chairperson, Irakli Kobakhidze has claimed non-governmental organizations’ criticism over the “judicial clan” stems from their attempts to restore the United National Movement party’s influence on courts.

Speaking with pro-government TV Imedi on April 21, MP Kobakhidze said “these so-called NGOs, that are conducting this campaign [on the judicial clan] have the sole aim of restoring – at least partially – the UNM’s control over the court.”

The ruling party chief stated that local civil society organizations’ criticism against the “judicial clan” began only after UNM-appointed cadres lost the positions as senior justices.

“These co-called NGOs are campaigning against the judiciary with a soviet method of coming up with clichés,” he continued, “in fact, I only know of the visible clan that is the clan of NGOs.”

“There are several NGOs where no one can stick nose into… You may try, create a non-governmental organization, but will fail to stick nose into this clan,” he said.

The judiciary is widely believed to be Achilles’ heel of Georgia’s transitioning democracy.

Critics from civil society organizations say a “clan” – a handful of judges holding sway over their colleagues – exists in the Georgian court system.

It is widely believed that the “judicial clan” had its roots in the UNM rule before their loyalty was taken over by the Georgian Dream government, which came to power in 2012.

Responding to the same criticism, then Parliament Speaker Kobakhidze said in 2019: “Before 2012, there were millions of cases of malpractice in courts. Now there are none. This means the system has changed, without the change of cadre.”

The Georgian Dream government also drew criticism over the courts from the U.S. and the European Union. Recently EU counted “five setbacks” in the Georgian judiciary over the year.

A week ago, the U.S. Department of State noted in its human rights report that Georgia’s “judges were vulnerable to political pressure from within and outside the judiciary on cases involving politically sensitive subjects or individuals.”

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