STUDY OF DIPLOMAS, PHD THESES, FINANCIAL DECLARATIONS AND SOCIAL NETWORKING ACTIVITIES OF JUDGES23 April, 2021
On April 23, 2021, NGO Rights Georgia presented the study reports on Diplomas, PhD theses, Financial Declarations and Social Networking Activities of Judges.
Download the reports:
1. Compliance of Education Level of the Judges of Common Courts of Georgia with the Georgian Legislation
As a result of the study of the diplomas certifying the higher education of the judges of common courts, the following main findings were defined:
- The High Council of Justice of Georgia is not an authorized body that has the relevant knowledge, capacity, and qualification to evaluate and certify the authenticity of the diploma issued by higher education institution or equivalency of this diploma to the Master’s Degree. According to the Georgian legislation, such authority is the LEPL “National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement’’;
- To determine the compliance of the obtained higher education in law with the requirements of Article 34 of the Law of Georgia on Common Courts, the High Council of Justice of Georgia has to request the candidate for judge a certification/confirmation from the LEPL National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement (especially for the assessment of diplomas issued before 2005-2006);
- The majority of the copies of the diplomas submitted by the judges to the High Council of Justice of Georgia do not indicate the duration of the study program - only the period of enrollment and completion of studies at the University is mentioned. At the same time, the Council does not have copies of diploma appendices, which makes it even less possible to assess the duration, volume, or content of the higher education program completed by the candidate. Only with the knowledge of the duration of the study, it is impossible to determine the volume, content, and equivalency to the Master’s Degree;
- It is unclear how the High Council of Justice of Georgia evaluates the issue of equalization of diplomas with Master’s Degree because the diplomas neither specify the period of enrollment to a higher education institution nor the duration of the program;
- Some of the judges, namely Maka Gvelesiani, Levan Gelovani, Indira Mashaneishvili, Davit Narimanishvili, Ararat Esoyan, Nino Buachidze, Maya Gigauri, Lela Tsanava,6 Anait Oganesian, Madona Maisuradze, Davit Svanadze,7 and Maka Chedia have obtained the confirmation/certification/recognition of their higher education diploma from LEPL National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement based on court decisions. The practice developed by Tbilisi City Court does not make any sense and the views expressed in the motivation part of the decision lack the legal grounds;
- Within the scope of administrative proceedings held based on statements of Levan Gelovani, Maka Gvelesiani, and Indira Mashaneishvili, LEPL National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement could not obtain any evidence information from the central archive or from the higher educational institution to prove that the judges have undertaken the higher education. Tbilisi City Court explained that the Center had to base its decision on recognition of the diploma based on the information submitted by the applicant himself/herself, testimonies of witnesses, copies of diplomas and appendices; also, the documents proving professional background. The Court annulled the refusal of the LEPL Center for Educational Quality Enhancement and charged the Center to authorize the diplomas of Maka Gvelesiani, Levan Gelovani, and Indira Mashaneishvili and recognize them as equivalent to the Master’s Degree;
- Based on Court decisions, LEPL Center for Educational Quality Enhancement was charged to certify the diplomas issued by the Faculty of Art and Humanitarian Professions of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University for Maya Gigauri and Lela Tsanava and/or make them equivalent to the Master’s Degree, even though the University itself claims that the faculty only gives the general humanitarian education without granting the qualification or degree. Besarion Alavidze, the Supreme Court judge has also submitted the diploma of this faculty;
- Based on the court decision, LEPL “National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement” (NCEQE) was requested to recognize the education received by Judge Anait Oganesyan at the University of Economics and Law (graduated in 1997) and to equalize it with Master’s Degree. However, according to the information provided to the Center by Armenic-National Information Center for Academic Recognition and Mobility, Yerevan University of Economics and Law was recognized in the Republic of Armenia in accordance with the law since 2001. Consequently, the diploma issued before 2001 cannot be deemed as a state diploma as it was not recognize in the Republic of Armenia;
- In consideration of Article 89, Paragraph 8 of the Law of Georgia on Higher Education, there are question marks regarding the equivalence of Judge Dali Metreveli’s diploma with a Master’s degree, as according to the submitted and studied documents, she studied at a higher educational institution for 4 years;
- The name of the higher educational institution is incorrectly indicated in the diplomas of Judges Gia Beraia, Maka Gorgodze, Ketevan Jachvadze, Giorgi Gratiashvili, Ekaterine Gabrichidze, Tea Beraia, and Temur Gogokhia;
- The archival documents do not contain information about the year from which the Tbilisi State Institute of Business implemented the higher education programs in law / legal science, the diploma of which was submitted to the High Council by Judge Natia Gudadze. The same diploma contains only the signature of the rector, which does not meet the standards set for the diploma form;
- The diplomas submitted by Judge Gela Kiria and Lela Kalichenko to the High Council of Justice of Georgia were issued before the decision was made by the State Examination Commission;
- Technical mistakes have been identified in the diplomas of Malkhaz Okropirashvili, Tariel Tabatadze, Merab Ghviniashvili, Irakli Bondarenko, Khatuna Nadibaidze, Roin Kakhadze, Shalva Gotsiridze, and Lela Chincharauli. The last two cases can be assessed as the most problematic of them. There have to be three signatures on Shalva Gotsiridze’s diploma (Rector, Chairman of the Examination Commission and Secretary), but only two signatures can be observed on the document. And Lela Chincharauli’s diploma lacks the signature of the faculty dean.
2. Freedom of Expression of Judges in Social Media and Its compliance with International and National Legislation and Standards of Judicial Ethics
The research on activities of judges of Common Courts on social media has led to the following findings:
- Most of the judges have Facebook accounts. Most of them use the social media to share personal and family, as well as travel photos, etc.
- The judges in most cases do not indicate their status/position on their Facebook pages and rarely, mark the court and not the position they hold. The judges, who are involved in pedagogical activities indicate only relevant institutions and positions held.
- Small number of judges express their political views on social media that contradicts to the national standards of judicial ethics, undermines the authority of court system and in certain cases might raise questions about the impartiality;
- The number of judges publish discriminative posts on social media that contradicts to the standards of judicial ethics and dignity of judicial office, as well as undermines the authority of judiciary;
- The number of judges use Facebook to share religious information that as such does not contradict to the standards of judicial ethics, however, in individual cases might raise questions about the impartiality and might become the reason for recusal;
- The fact that some judges use Facebook to share academic, educational content/activities and popularize judicial system deserves positive evaluation;
- The number of judges demonstrate civic activism, as well as reverberate political topics and occupation on social media;
- The small number of judges has kept the problematic posts on their Facebook profile published before their ascension to the bench. It is true that this kind of expression can not be assessed in terms of compliance with the standards of judicial ethics, but it is a good indicator to evaluate judges’ views, attitudes and in certain cases impartiality.
3. Analysis of Financial Declarations of Judges
The main research findings can be divided into two groups:
a. Concrete Findings:
- The analysis of received information confirms that in general judges display responsibility when filling-in the declarations, however the examination of submitted declarations revealed cases of inaccuracies and violations:
- The research identified the declarations, which do not include real estate property in the possession of judges registered in the Public Registry;
- The research identified the declarations, which include inaccurate data (for example: the information about the salary of a judge);
- In certain cases, the real estate property acquired by the judge almost corresponds (is almost close) to his/her income, raising questions and requiring additional examination by relevant authorities;
- There are cases, when based on the declaration, the judge in the moment of purchase of real estate property did not have relevant funds (amount of money) to acquire this property;
- 206 judges (68.6%) or members of his/her family have loans;
As of 2020 there has been no single case of registration of a judge as an entrepreneur;
- There has been not a single case when judges performed remunerated incompatible activities;
- The person who gave a gift and his/her affiliation to the judge are not usually indicated in the declaration, making impossible to define the issue related to the compatibility with the law.
b. General Findings:
- Judges spend 19% of their income on purchase of real estate property on average;
- Salaries of judges make 74% of family income;
- The share of additional income (income received apart from his/her salary as a judge) of a judge makes 7% of family income on average;
- The income of family members of judges makes 19% of the total family income on average;
- 109 judges have been engaged in pedagogical activities (lectures, trainings, seminars) for last five years, unlike to 191 judges who are not engaged in pedagogical activities;
- The average annual income of judges received from pedagogical activities amounts to 6 300 GEL;
- During the last 5 years, the total income received from the pedagogical activities of 9 judges (each of them) is above 100,000 GEL.
The research was prepared in the framework of the Project “Study of Diplomas, PHD Thesis, Financial Declarations and Social Networking Activities of Judges” by the organization “Rights Georgia” with the support of “Open Society Georgia Foundation”. The ideas expressed in the research belong to the authors and might not express the position of the foundation. Consequently, the foundation shall not be responsible for the content of the document.