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New ombudsman may be chosen today

by | Oct 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch — Thursday parliament will approve the new government presented by the Georgian Dream coalition.

Parliament might also approve the new public defender, whose candidacy has been subject to discussion since the election result first became known.

Five candidates have been suggested. One of them is Tamar Gurchiani, a former lawyer at Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) and now chair of the public council of International Society for Free Elections and Democracy. Gurchiani has support from more than 100 non-governmental organizations.

The NGOs write in a joint statement that Gurchiani is desirable for organizations working on civic and political rights, social, environmental, cultural heritage, women’s rights, protecting children, and people with disabilities and minorities’s rights.

“There is no first or second type of person for Tamar Gurchiani. Major condition for her is equality without conditions,” they write.

Another candidate is a lawyer Gela Nikolaishvili, who has support from 20 NGOs.

Zaza Khatiashvili, chair of Georgian Bar Association, supports his candidacy and says he can create a system at the ombudsman’s office which will be active and serve each people in need of help.

“Gela Nikolaishvili will learn who turned prison employees into butchers, on whose orders it happened. He will be a person who will demand to put those people in the dock,” he says adding that Nikolaishvili has 35 years experience working as a human rights activist.

Lia Mukhashavria, chair of the organization Human Rights Priority, is another candidate for the post. She has years of experience within human rights.

A strong competitor to Tamar Gurchiani is Dimitry Lortkipanidze, a former parliamentarian who enjoys strong support from families and relatives of prisoners, who demand that he is appointed. They believe he is the best qualified person to protect the rights of prisoners.

But Lortkipanidze is facing criticism from civil society and on social networks for alleged homophobic comments.

Ucha Nanuashvili, director of Human Rights Center, is another proposed candidate for ombudsman.

Also Nina Khatiskatsi has been proposed. She is a former employee of Transparency International who was fired allegedly on political grounds as her husband was an activist and member of the Georgian Dream coalition, and later arrested

But Khatiskatsi has declined the offer of this post writing on her Facebook page that she supports the candidacy of Tamar Gurchiani and won’t be a competitor to her.

The post of ombudsman has been free since President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed former Public Defender Giorgi Tughushi as new prison minister in September following the prison abuse scandal.

A few days ago, the new prison minister Sozar Subari, who was public defender before Tughushi, had a meeting with four candidates for ombudsman together with Eka Beselia, a lawyer representing Georgian Dream in parliament, and Manana Kobakhidze from Georgian Dream.

After the meeting Subari said that the party leadership has not yet made a decision about who will become public defender.

The future prison minister was criticized for getting involved in the decision to choose the public servant who will be controlling his own ministry.

Later he explained that due to a conflict of interest he cannot participate in the process of electing a new ombudsman.



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