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Ucha Nanuashvili Evaluated His Five Years on the Position of the Public Defender


Natia Gogolashvili

“Before being elected, a journalist asked me whose rights I would defend as a public defender. I answered then that the question was already a mistake. I am glad that today similar questions are no longer asked to the public defenders-to be. The public defender shall defend the rights of each individual. We managed to change the approach and standard and I think this challenge no longer exists,” Ucha Nanuashvili ended presentation of his five-year progress report with these words. On November 27, Ucha Nanuashvili presented 2012-2017 progress report to the Parliament of Georgia, Government Institutions, international organizations and nongovernmental sector. 

“We managed to make human rights standards higher and the public defender’s institution stronger in the country – the fifth public defender of Georgia evaluated his work. The Ombudsman presented the progress report in the frame of the Public Defender’s mandate in the field of individual case litigation, monitoring, public awareness raising and education as well as relations with international human rights organizations. 

“We managed to change the format of being listened to; to make the reports and recommendations of the public defender shared by different bodies of the government and to make the executive government accountable in front of the Parliament which increased the quality of the parliamentary supervision over those institutions. The PDO became more proactive. We did not wait for concrete applications and complaints from citizens; I can list hundreds of cases when we started study of the cases based on our own initiative. For the past years, the Public Defender first time became the member of the Global Alliance of the Human Rights National Institutions and representative of the Steering Council of the European Network,” Ucha Nanuashvili said. 

The ombudsman said the number of applications to the Public Defender had doubled in the report period. Namely, in 2012 the PDO received 4 291 applications and by November 2017, the number of applications reached 7 697. In between 2012 and 2017 the Public Defender delivered 74 special reports, 14 legislative proposals, opinions about 35 bills and 12 constitutional lawsuits were submitted. 

As Ucha Nanuashvili noted, the Public Defender of Georgia pays particular attention to the empowerment of regional offices. According to the report, in the report period three new offices were launched: in Telavi, Ozurgeti and Mestia. Currently, the PDO has 9 field offices. At the same time, the Public Defender paid 106 field visits in different regions of Georgia. 

Unequal attitudes from the Government of Georgia were caused by critical statements of the PDO – Ucha Nanuashvili evaluated the recent critical statements of the government officials towards the PDO. 

“The reaction of the Government was not homogenous. I think in the beginning they were more cooperative. Among them was the positive steps taken in the direction of fulfilling the recommendations. For the past one year I see that this approach significantly changed. It was caused by the fact that we always reported about all violations and mostly those violations referred to the fields where systemic problems were observed. It refers to the MIA, prosecutor’s office, court and other institutions where we observed most violations,” Ucha Nanuashvili said. 

Representatives of CSOs also responded to the critical statements of the Government officials against Ucha Nanuashvili.

“I believe the dissatisfaction of the government is the best indicator for the evaluation of the Public Defender’s work. The political authority actively criticizes his work and indicates at some problems. At some point it is caused by the fact that the Public Defender was implementing his duty properly. The criticism was hailed by the government,” the Human Rights Program Coordinator at the OSGF Giorgi Burjanadze said.

Executive Director of Human Rights Center Aleko Tskitishvili said the comment of the Minister of Interior was particularly alarming when the Public Defender asked him to investigate the fact of the alleged physical assault of a citizen in police unit. “The Minister of Interior stated the Public Defender of Georgia supported the criminals. It was alarming evaluation from the side of the minister. Instead starting the investigation in similar facts, they protect those violators.”

Representatives of the nongovernmental organizations and government institutions evaluated the work of Ucha Nanuashvili as a Public Defender. 

“We for the past five years successfully cooperated with the Ombudsman’s office. In practice there is no decision in the Ministry of Refugees, about the rights of IDPs, eco-migrants or migrants, that we did not involve the Ombudsman in the process. We closely cooperate with each other. Of course we positively evaluate the work of Ucha Nanuashvili,” the deputy minister for refugees and accommodation Giga Giorgadze said. 

“During the past five years the positions of the Public Defender was very important in different directions. We cooperated with each other in different fields including the high profile cases. The Public Defender carried out several significant public campaigns, which referred to the defense of personal life and labor rights. The work of the PDO once again showed how important the strong and independent personnel in the office of the Public Defender is,” the lawyer of the EMC Sofo Verdzeuli said.

“For the past five years, the Public Defender had active communication with the human rights organizations. We had common visions on many issues and together requested changes in different fields with various legislative proposals,” Aleko Tskitishvili said. 

“The results presented by the Public Defender are very impressive. In fact the effort and results were doubled in comparison to previous results of the Public Defender’s Office. Also, the raise followed by the work of the Public Defender is very significant,” the executive director of the IDFI Giorgi Kldiashvili said. 

Journalists asked Ucha Nanuashvili where he is going to continue his work and he said that in any position he will continue defense of human rights. 

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