On December 2-7, 2019, the 18th session of the Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court was held in The Hague. The Assembly of States Parties comprising 123 State Parties is the supervisory and legislative body of The Hague Court and meets at least once a year.
Member Organizations of the Coalition of Georgia for the International Criminal Court – Georgian Young Lawyers' Association, The Georgian Center for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT), Justice International, Human Rights Center participated in the plenary sessions and meetings held in the framework of the Assembly.
On December 6, member organizations of the Coalition organized an event dedicated to the victims of the 2008 August War between Russia and Georgia. Within the framework of the event, the members of the Coalition discussed the heavy socio-economic situation of the affected population, the massive human rights abuses committed by Russia during and after the August war, The Hague Court's investigation into the situation in Georgia, current processes and challenges existing today.
During the visit representatives of the member organizations of Coalition of Georgia also had the opportunity to meet with Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of The Hague Court and the representatives of the Trust Fund for Victims. Members of the coalition emphasized the importance of the investigation conducted by the prosecutor's office, especially given that even 11 years after the August War, there has been no finding and prosecution of perpetrators for the restoration of victims' violated rights and justice. At the same time, the members of the Coalition reiterated the need for the timely implementation of support programs from the Trust Fund for Victims to improve the heavy condition of those affected by the war.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda noted that investigating the situation of Georgia was accompanied by numerous challenges, including the prolonged post-war period and Russia's refusal to cooperate with the court. However, the prosecutor said, the investigation is in the active phase and the investigation may achieve some results in the near future. However, due to the confidential nature of the ongoing process and the interests of the investigation, the prosecutor abstained from disclosing additional details.
Representatives of the Trust Fund for Victims also noted that the Fund is currently assessing the situation of those affected by the August war and based on this, in May 2020, the board of directors the Fund will decide on need of implementation of specific support programs to assist war victims in Georgia.
However, on December 2, at the Assembly of State Parties, Minister of Justice of Georgia announced that next year Georgia plans to nominate it candidate for the election of a judge with the Eastern European quota.
The election of judges of the International Criminal Court is to be held in December 2020, with the Assembly of State Parties electing six judges for a nine-year term. Throughout the existence of the court, no one has ever been elected as a judge from Georgia. At the next Assembly in the event of a sufficient number of votes from the State Parties, a nominee from Georgia will be able to occupy an honorable place among court decision-makers and make a significant contribution to the decision-making process.
The Coalition of Georgia welcomes the idea of nominating a judge from Georgia, especially considering that one of the recommendations of the coalition in the latest report, "10 Years after the August War: Victims of the Situation in Georgia" was to develop the selection procedure for the nomination of candidate.
At the same time, it is important that at the national level the selection process of judges is conducted in a transparent and fair manner, which requires the State to take the following steps:
- To develop a national legal framework setting out the rules for nominating candidates;
- To establish an independent commission, involving members of civil society and representatives of the legal circles, ensuring conducting of the selection process of candidates and evaluating their qualifications;
- To abstain from nominating a person who has worked as a government official for the past five years, including diplomatic representation during the selection process and to provide an equal chance of nomination for candidates who lack political and governmental affiliations.
Taking into account these criteria in the selection of a candidate for judge ensures the selection of an independent and impartial candidate at the national level. The Coalition of Georgia expresses its readiness to cooperate actively with the Government of Georgia to ensure fair and transparent conduct of the nomination process.
Member organization of the Coalition of Georgia for International Criminal Court:
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association
The Georgian Center for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)
Human Rights Center
Article of 42 of the Constitution
International Center on Conflict and Negotiation
Human Rights Priority