The Ministry of Justice has released the short-list of five candidates of judges for Georgia’s seat at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. Each candidate was interviewed and assessed by a special governmental commission and given points, with five being the highest score; those with the highest scores made the top five short-list. The Ministry of Justice says gender balance was taken into account in making the short-list.
The five candidates are:
- Lado Chanturia - 5 points
- Sophio Japaridze - 4.69 points
- Shota Getsadze - 3.85 points
- Tamar Alania - 3.77 points
- Irakli Dondoladze - 3.69 points
The Government of Georgia now must decide three candidates from the five to present to the selection committee of the ECHR. The ECHR will then select only one candidate.
The first candidate on the list, Lado Chanturia, has been Georgia’s ambassador to Germany since February 2014. He was a member of the Council of Justice of Georgia in 1997-2004, served as the Justice Minister in 1998-1999, and as the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia in 1999-2004. In 2004-2013, Chanturia worked in different universities abroad.
Sophio Japaridze is the advisor to Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili on human rights and gender equality issues. She has previously worked as a project manager for EU-funded projects and was deputy Minister of Corrections.
Shota Getsadze is a member of the High Council of Justice of Georgia. He worked in Tbilisi City Court in 2011-2015, and he is currently a judge at the Appellate Court of Georgia. Getsadze was among those judges who supported the High Council of Justice’s willingness to set standards for criticism towards the judiciary.
Tamar Alania is also a member of the High Council of Justice of Georgia. In 2006-2016, she served as a judge of the Tbilisi Appellate Court. Alania has previously made public statements that she does not doubt the Supreme Court’s decision in March 2017 to grant ownership of the Rustavi 2 TV company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. Days later, the implementation of the decision was permanently suspended by the European Court of Human Rights.
The final candidate, Irakli Dondoladze, is a Prosecutor. He represented the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia in Aix-en-Provence, France demanding the extradition of Georgia’s former Defence Minister, Davit Kezerashvili. The extradition was afterwards rejected by the court.
In total, 24 candidates were interviewed for the position. The selection process, led by a special governmental commission, was set up on February 20th, 2017. The commission chairman is Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani, and the deputy chairman is Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Davit Zalkaliani. Representatives of different courts, the Prosecutor’s Office, Ombudsman of Georgia, Parliament of Georgia, and the coalition “Independent and Transparent Judiciary” are also among the commission.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) previously rejected all three candidates suggested by the Georgian government for the seat on the European Court of Human Rights. Georgia must redo the selection process and propose new candidates.
Judge Nona Tsotsoria is currently Georgia’s judge at the ECHR. Her term expired; however, since the candidates that were proposed by the Georgian government to replace her were rejected by the ECHR, Tsotoria’s term was extended.