Problems Identified in the Judges’ Professional Training System Suggest that Comprehensive Reform of the High School of Justice is Needed
On April 18, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) presented the research on the Judges Professional Training System in Georgia. The research provides an overview of the institutional arrangement of the High School of Justice of Georgia (HSoJ) and main challenges related to its work. The research summarizes distribution of powers between the HSoJ and the High Council of Justice (HCoJ) and identifies a number of problems that exist in HSoJ performance, including initial training, in-service training and training programs.
The regulation governing the formation of the Independent Board of the High School of Justice has a major flaw, mandating the HCoJ with the power (responsibilities) to control activities of the School. The research lays particular emphasis on the need to increase organizational independence of the School, as a crucial requirement for ensuring judicial independence and transparency of judicial appointments.
The research also focuses on admission process and selection of judicial candidates. Another key flaw of the same regulation, is the fact that the School is not authorized to select judicial candidates itself. In addition, the existing legislation does not provide sufficient guarantees for avoiding arbitrary decisions by the HCoJ about announcement of the competition. This creates a serious risk that the Council will make decisions based on its subjective views, as opposed to interest of justice.
Research findings also indicate that requirements that judicial candidate should meet are flawed;selection criteria, guarantees for reasoned decisions and appealing are not provided in the law, which is problematic. Lack of such legislative guarantees poses the risk of arbitrary actions and biased decisions, which harms the important public interest of staffing the judicial system with qualified, competent and independent judges.
The research suggests that duration of in-service training at the High School of Justice is insufficient for preparing qualified judicial candidates. The existing regulations do not allow judicial candidates to explore deeply issues that are important for effective implementation of judicial functions. The research has also found that the training methodology and the practice of quality assurance and development needs to be further elaborated.
Further, the existing legal framework does not ensure objective and transparent process of staffing of the teachers’ council. Lack of qualification requirements that members of the final examination commission should meet and their selection criteria are also problematic, which provides the independent board with a broad discretion for selection of the 3 members of the commission.
The research also underlines the need to increase the School’s role in appointment of judges, as a crucial requirement for ensuring fair and objective process of judicial appointments.
Problems identified by the research suggest that comprehensive reform of the High School of Justice is needed. Based on international standards and experience, the report presents recommendations for addressing existing flaws and problems.
The report was made possible by the support of American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this report are the sole responsibility of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and do not necessarily reflect the views of East West Management Institute, USAID or the United States Government.
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