U.S. Embassy Statement on the Appointment of Judges

Published in Justice
Thursday, 15 July 2021 17:23

Parliament’s July 12 decision to approve six Supreme Court judicial nominations, despite an explicit agreement by Georgia’s political leaders in the April 19 Agreement to “refrain from making appointments to the Supreme Court under existing rules”, is extremely disappointing. Unfortunately, this nomination and appointment process, and the failure to undertake inclusive, comprehensive judicial reform, fell short of the commitment Georgia’s leaders, including the ruling party, made to implement the April 19 Agreement in good faith.

The parties agreed to conduct ambitious judicial reform through a broad, transparent process that includes legal experts, civil society, and opposition parties. Unilateral legislative changes, including those adopted against the advice of international partners while the April 19 Agreement was being negotiated, are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Agreement. In particular, the early April amendments to the Organic Law on Common Courts failed to fully address Venice Commission recommendations, including a key recommendation related to staggering judicial appointments. 

The failure to pause the appointment process until after comprehensive judicial reform could take place has real consequences. Legal experts and civil society organizations have highlighted that Parliament’s flawed process did not advance the most qualified nominees, resulting in less-qualified judges receiving lifetime appointments on the court. As a July 9 report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) found, this nomination process, “took place in an environment where there is a lack of public trust in the independence of the judiciary,” and “applications, background checks, and interviews established by the High Council of Justice for these nominations fell short of international standards.” Given this context, it was imperative that Parliament pause the appointment process to allow for inclusive, comprehensive reform reflecting the input of legal experts, civil society, and opposition. Parliament had the authority to do so and a pause would not have unduly burdened the judiciary’s operation. The decision not to do so is therefore very concerning and constitutes a significant missed opportunity to strengthen confidence in Georgia’s judiciary and advance its democratic development.      

The United States stands ready to continue our efforts to support Parliament and the people of Georgia in credible efforts to strengthen the judicial system and the rule of law in Georgia.

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    On December 25, 1991, in his holiday address to the people of the United States, President George H. W. Bush announced the United States' recognition of Georgian independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    In the 30 years since, Georgia and the United States have grown to become steadfast strategic partners, cooperating across a broad spectrum of issues in the name of a Georgia and Europe whole and free and at peace.

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    FEEDING ON WARS

    "Our nation was born in genocide," American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1963 book Why We Can't Wait. "We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population."

    The United States was founded on 13 British colonies in North America where the indigenous, some of who helped the first Europeans to settle down on the continent, had lived for thousands of years. However, instead of acknowledging the rights of the Native Americans or Indians after the Revolutionary War, the federal government embarked on a century-long campaign to eliminate them.

    "We massacred them," Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, an American-Swiss historian and former United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, told Xinhua during an interview in Geneva, Switzerland. "We demonized the Indians. We call them devils. We call them wolves ... and it was a lot easier if you demonize your rival in order to kill them."

    In Westward Expansion under the so-called Manifest Destiny, a 19th-century doctrine that Americans were destined to expand across the continent, the United States extended its western border to the Pacific Ocean following a chain of land purchases and annexations, along with significant territorial gains after the Mexico-American War in the 1840s.

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    WAR MACHINE

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    Despite Eisenhower's warning, the formidable union of the military, private defense contractors, and the government has grown stronger and more entwined. Daniel Kovalik, adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, told Xinhua during an interview via video link that the tremendous vested interest that the retired five-star Army general was talking about "was nothing compared to what it is today."

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    "Because the defense industry companies that make the bombs, that make the planes, that make the vehicles, and also the private military contractors that now are fighting the wars in lieu of public military personnel, they made trillions of dollars as long as the war continued," he expounded. "So they didn't care if the war was ever won, the goal was for the war to simply continue forever."

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