The existence of an independent and credible judiciary is important not only for rule of law and protection of human rights, but also for a country’s economic development. During almost 30 years since the declaration of Georgia’s independence, the country still has not managed to build an independent judiciary. Regrettably, we are still talking about political influences and corruption in the courts. The latter still do not manage to restrain and control the other branches of government, while judicial decisions do not essentially comply with human rights standards and fairness.  
The public is aware of the crisis unfolding in the court system and is skeptical towards the judiciary. The waves of legislative reforms have not significantly altered the system, mainly due to the existence of the clan-based governance in judiciary. After the Georgian Dream’s arrival in power, the same group of judges (the clan), who controlled the system in the times of the United National Movement, retained their power. This group reached a settlement with the new government and continued reshuffling judiciary based on the principle of loyalty. Following the 2012 change of government, the degree of dissent gradually reduced and finally disappeared. The system has become impenetrable for open-minded people. The judicial self-governance, instead of being a mechanism for addressing the problems of the judiciary, turned into a mechanism for strengthening the clan-based governance. 
The governance crisis taking place in the court system has been described in the statements and reports of local and international organizations. 
The submission of the list of 10 Supreme Court judicial candidates to the Parliament and the process of selection of Supreme Court judges in the second half of 2019 revealed the problems existing in the system. On December 11, 2019, the Coalition called on the Parliament of Georgia to refrain from supporting the list of 20 Supreme Court judicial candidates, whose absolute majority did not meet the requirements established for judges. However, the legislative body confirmed 14 persons loyal to the clan as highest-instance court judges. 
After gaining control over the Supreme Court, the High Council of Justice submitted the candidacy of the Chief Justice, whose selection was non-transparent and rushed. Despite the Coalition’s statement, the candidate was supported. 
The clan-based governance has now spilled over from the Common Courts to the Constitutional Court of Georgia. In April-May 2020, during the state of emergency and pandemic-related crisis, The Supreme Court Plenum took advantage of the lack of public attention and selected two new Constitutional Court judges – Khvicha Kikalashvili and Vasil Ronishvili, whose qualifications and integrity raise serious concerns. Once again, they were appointed due to the loyalty to the clan. 
The Coalition believes that judicial reform has reached a stalemate. The problem can be treated only if it is acknowledged and properly labeled. Therefore, the Coalition calls on the Parliament of Georgia to support the resolution on the recognition of the clan-based governance of the court system and take steps towards the eradicating it and truly reforming the judiciary.           
In the second half of 2020, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child  (CRC) will elect  nine new members at the eighteen session (Conference of States Parties to the Convention). The States Parties shall select and nominate candidates to the Committee in an open and transparent manner. Georgia has nominated Sophie Kiladze, Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, as a candidate for the CRC membership.
We, the undersigned organizations, underline that the state ignored the UN recommended selection procedure when selecting the candidate for the CRC membership and nominated  Ms. Sopio Kiladze who does not represent for strong belief and respect for equality and human rights. Ms. Kiladze during her tenure as the Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee has on numerous occasions demonstrated homophobic attitudes and selectiveness in supporting human rights, especially the rights of minority groups. We, the signatory organizations believe that the parties casting their votes should be aware of the civil society position before making a voting decision. 
We strongly oppose Ms. Sopio Kiladze’s, Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, election to the CRC.  Her qualifications, reputation and open disregard of human rights, as well as her nomination taking place with obvious disregard of the recommended processes1  do not hold up to the high standard essential for this position and her legitimacy. 
Violation of the principles of openness and transparency of the selection procedure. The United Nations follows the procedure and principles of openness and transparency in the selection of candidates and for this purpose the CRC considers that it is essential to ensure public calls for nominees that will encourage all interested candidates to participate in the competition. The United Nations demands holding an open competition and sets a requirement for selection of the candidate who meets the high moral standards and has competence and experience in the specific field. Unfortunately, the Government of Georgia (GoG) did not follow this recommendation and Sopo Kiladze was selected as a candidate for the CRC membership secretly from the civil society. Moreover, the GoG did not even publicize the information about the beginning of the selection procedures. This information was not disclosed to civil society organizations (CSOs). The civil society obtained information about the nomination of the candidate from the official website of the High Commissioner for Human Rights after the candidate had been nominated. Due to such non-transparent and secretive selection process no one else was considered for the position. 
The lack of relevant experience in the field of children’s rights. The candidate nominated by the state fails to meet important criteria, such as an expert knowledge in the field of child rights and protection. Dispite the fact that Kiladze is one of the authors of two legislative initiatives, the Child Rights' Code and the Law on Social Work, Ms. Sopio Kiladze's past experience does not cover the area of children’s rights. She has not done any academic or other scientific work in this field, which would justify her expert knowledge in the field of children’s rights. Those are the main prerequisites for all candidates before the Child Right Committee. 

Moreover, Sopio Kiladze did not engage children's rights organizations and the Coalition for Children and Youth comprising of almost all organizations working on children’s rights countrywide (49 organizations) in the process of drafting and reviewing the Child Rights' Code. At that time, the civil society publicly expressed strong discontent with the draft code and demanded engagement of the civil society actors in the process2.  Despite the continued demands, children were not allowed to be involved in the process.
Ms. Kiladze's resume states that she is the author of the large-scale countrywide campaign for promotion of children's rights and solidarity. In fact, three events (one per year) were held with the participation of Ms. Kiladze. Unfortunately, these one-time measures cannot be considered as the evidence that Sopio Kiladze has relevant expertise in the field of child rights. 
Avoidance of conflict of interests and violation of the principle of candidate independence. This recommendation has also been ignored by the state. There is a conflict of interests regarding Sopio Kiladze and therefore, she cannot be considered as an independent candidate. Sopio Kiladze is currently member of the parliament. She held this mandate during the selection process too. She did not relinquish her MP mandate and due to this fact, she cannot be considered to be an independent candidate. Also, she is a member of the ruling political party and the member of the political council of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia3
Violation of the reputation requirement and relationship with the civil sector. The candidate nominated by the state is notorious for open and blatant confrontation with the civil society. She has verbally abused human rights defenders, confronted human rights activists and demonstrated homophobic and discriminatory attitudes in her public statements. Most recently, she has called for introduction of militaristic principles in children’s education and development curricula4.    She has repeatedly demonstrated negative attitude toward the LGBTQI community. These facts have been described in the reports of various international and local organizations and have been widely covered by media outlets. Due to these very attitudes demonstrated from the floor of the parliament and at other fora the civil society had to resort to many forms of protest against her5.  
The civil society sector considers that the CRC plays an extremely important role in the development of children’s human rights standards. Therefore, the representative of the country must serve the interests of children of his/her country as well as children of all State Parties to the Convention honestly, independently, and professionally.  In addition, it is essential to pay particular attention to the candidate's reputation and attitude towards the civil sector. Democratic values and the protection of the rights of minorities, especially protection of the best interests of minority children, including the LGBTQI community, children with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, should be paramount for the candidate.
We, the undersigned organizations (52 organizations), would like to request you to take into consideration this critical assessment made by civil society organizations, local and international organizations in the election process of the CRC members and not support election of Ms. Kiladze to this position. 
Please feel free to contact us in case you require any further clarifications or evidence.  

1. Coalition for Children and Youth – Signed by 24 organizations6;
      The Coalition for Equality - Unites 11 non-governmental non-profit organizations7:
2. Partnership for Human Rights (PHR; 
3. Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA); 
4. Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF); 
5. Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC); 
6. Rights Georgia; 
7. Union “Safari”; 
8. Women's Initiatives Support Group (WISG); 
9. Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI); 
10. Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI); 
11. Human Rights Center (HRC); 
12. Equality Movement;
Other organizations:
13. Transparency International Georgia (TI);
14. International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED);
15. Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) Georgia;
16. Movement Accessible Environment for Everyone (MAEE;)
17. Tbilisi Pride; 
18. Identity – youth;
19. LGBTQI Association – TEMIDA;
20. Independent Group of Feminists;
21. Georgian Portage Association;
22. Media Development Fund (MDF);
23. Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD);
24. Center "Empathy";
25. Women's Fund in Georgia;
26. Families Against Discrimination (FAD);
27. Georgian Mental Health Association;
28. Woman and Reality; 
29. Georgian Down Syndrome Association.

5 The Coalition for Equality responded to Sopio Kiladze's discriminatory and homophobic statement that she was not going to protect sexual minority representatives and believed that it was up to her to decide whether to protect sexual minority representatives or not. It triggered a large protest in the country.-;;
Petition for calling Sopio Kiladze's resignation was created by LGBTQI organizations. -;
Sopio Kiladze illegally restricted the freedom of expression to a member of the LGBTQI community on her official Facebook page, which was eliminated during the period of court dispute. -;
Sopio Kiladze uses hate speech against the LGBTQI community, which has repeatedly been criticized by the public. Due to this fact  the civil society demanded her resignation from her position as the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration. -;;
Ms. Kiladze verbally assaults human rights defenders while using her power and restricts their freedom of expression. These facts have also become the subject of protests expressed by international and local organizations. Due to the fact that Sopio Kiladze attacked the civil society, the non-governmental organizations were forced to hold rallies demanding his resignation. -;,,,;
The largest coalition in the country created to ensure equality and protect people from discrimination - Coalition for Equality responded to Sopio Kiladze's discriminatory and insulting attacks on human rights defenders, which condemned her approaches to human rights defenders. -; 
The Partnership for Human Rights (PHR) filed a complaint against Sopio Kiladze alleging violation of the ethical norms of a member of parliament in order to discuss the violation of ethical norms by the MP. -; 
The Human Rights House functioning in a number of countries responded to Sopio Kiladze's attack on human rights defenders. -; ;
On May 28, General Assembly of Rights Georgia elected two new members - Ms. Mariam Gogosashvili and Ms. Nana Mchedlidze - to the organization's board.

Mariam Gogosashvili is an executive director of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics since March, 2019. She has over seven years experience in media, in particular, media law and protection journalists' rights. 

From February, 2018 to March, 2020 Mariam was a project coordinator at Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) working in the project related to improving the media environment in Georgia. Earlier, in 2012-2013, she worked in the same organization holding a lawyer's position. Her primary responsibility was defending the rights of journalists. In 2013-2017, Mariam was a head of the Legal Department at media corporation “Stereo+”.

Mariam is an author of numerous researches in the field of media law. 

She obtained a master's degree in Law from Tbilisi State University, and in International relations from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA). Currently, she is a PhD program student in mass communications at Tbilisi State University. 


Nana Mchedlidze is a prominent and widely recognized strategic litigation expert, with over 2 decades of progressive experience in domestic and international  organizations, as well as over three dozens of publications on strategic litigation in domestic and international courts, among others, with strong emphasis of gender equality, domestic violence related cases, vulnerable/ethnic minority-related cases. 

Nana has been serving as adviser for various international organizations, including: being ECHR expert of the US Embassy Department of Justice, CoE, UNDP. In January, 2020, she joined Rights Georgia's team as a strategic litigation expert.

Nana is alumni of Council of Europe’s Human Rights Law and Practice Programme, University of Birmingham, LL.M in International Development Law and Human Rights, University of Warwick, the United Kingdom and LL.M in International and EU Law, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Ms. Nana is currently working on the PhD in human rights protection.
From May 2020, NGO Rights Georgia is implementing the project “Monitoring Effectiveness and Accessibility of the E-Court” with the support of the Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLoG) activity carried by the East-West Management Institute with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding. 
The goal of the project is to identify the problems that the court users encounter in court services during the state of emergency and conduct monitoring of electronic trials, prepare recommendations for the implementation of remote services.  For this very purpose the project shall conduct monitoring over online trials and the interview of the stakeholders involved in the administration of justice. 
We are pleased to publish the first report which contains preliminary findings, including, problems in electronic case processing, and recommendations aimed at improving the functioning of courts. 

Download the report