GEO

Procedure of electing Constitutional Court chairperson should be carried out in accordance with requirements of law

05 October, 2016

After the term in office of the former chairperson of the Constitutional Court ended on 30 September 2016, the issue of electing the new chairperson was put on the agenda. According to the law, the new chairperson of the Constitutional Court must be elected no later than one month after the end of the previous chairperson's term in office. Also, at least three members of the Constitutional Court have the right to nominate a candidate for the post of the chairperson of the Constitutional Court no later than two weeks after the end of the Constitutional Court chairperson's term in office. Two judges appointed by the president of Georgia said on the day they took an oath that they would use the two-week term determined by the law for consultations and would then propose specific candidates. Despite this, before the two-week term was over, the information about a session to elect the chairperson of the Constitutional Court being scheduled for 6 October was published on the Constitutional Court website.

We would like to note that, against the background of a crisis situation that has taken shape around the Constitutional Court of late, it is especially important that the Court, in accordance with the rules envisaged by the law, be able to manage its own activities through collegial collaboration in order to defuse the tensions that have recently surrounded the court's activities and have been damaging to its reputation among the public. It is important that each judge fully comprehends his or her responsibility in this process and does not contribute to the tensions. We believe that each judge should have a possibility to use the time envisaged by the law for communication and negotiation with his or her colleagues and then decide on the nomination of oneself or of a colleague as a candidate for the post of the chairperson of the Constitutional Court. In addition, it is important that speeding up the election of the chairperson does not create an impression among the public that this process is linked to the political events unfolding in the country.

We would also like to note that, if the three newly appointed or any three out of the current eight judges of the Court decide that they are going to fully use the term given to them by the law, this will automatically become the basis for deferring the session scheduled for 6 October to the date defined by the law, since the plenary session of the Court has authority if at least six members are attending it. We believe that this rule also applies to the session where the Court chairperson is elected.

It should also be noted that postponing the procedure of electing the Court chairperson until the date defined by the law would by no means prevent the judges from considering and making decisions on the so-called high-profile cases since the newly appointed judges are members of the plenary session of the court and can fully exercise their judicial powers during this period.

Considering all of the above, we call on the Constitutional Court and each one of its judges to ensure that the process is managed in such a manner as to allow defusing the tense situation that has taken shape within the Court of late. In addition, it is important that each judge be able to fully use the powers given to him or her by the law in the process of electing the chairperson.