High Council of Justice Demands Stricter Law over Verbal Abuse of Judges

TBILISI – The High Council of Justice (HCOJ) of Georgia has initiated legislative regulations on the verbal abuse or harsh criticism of judges.

The HCOJ, which consists of 15 members, criticized some recent statements by the media on the activities of judges. The Secretary of the HCOJ, Levan Murusidze says that they are not asking for restrictions on the freedom of expression. “Verbal abuse of a particular judge completely damages the whole judicial system. We asked for help to protect the judicial system and its image from such attacks,” he said.

Non-governmental organizations do not approve of the High Council of Justice’s initiative. They say it is a restriction of the freedom of expression. “With this step the judicial authorities want to avoid criticism,” Eka Gigauri, the Head of Transparency International – Georgia said.

The Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili, agrees with the NGOs. “I think this initiative is not serious. We already have similar regulations in the legislation which protect the rights of every citizen, including the judges,” he said.

Moreover, the Council of Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics says this initiative aims at imposing censorship on the media. The group believes that any initiative that restricts freedom of expression in any form will worsen the existing standard.

Merab Gabinashvili, a member of the HCOJ, responded to the criticism of the initiative. He said that the judges, as all other citizens, should be protected from abuse. “We do not request restriction of freedom of expression. We say that criticism and abuse should be separated from one another. Freedom of expression ends where a violation of rights begins,” he added.

HCOJ is an independent organ, created to coordinate the judiciary system and to promote the effectiveness and independence of the judiciary.

 

By Thea Morrison

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