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Opposition criticise draft law on Public Defender

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, July 12
Opposition MPs criticised the amendments to the Law on the Public Defender initiated by MP Kakha Anjaparidze last week. Its authors say that the draft amendments package is aimed at “completing the legislation on the Ombudsman and harmonising it with the standards of international law.” However, the Parliamentary minority MPs protested against the amendment that the Public Defender should only report to Parliament once a year instead of twice as at present.

Georgian Troupe MP Jondi Baghaturia said that an “alternative amendments package” would be drafted, obliging the Ombudsman to report to Parliament quarterly. Baghaturia accused the ruling party MPs of “usually neglecting” the reports of the Public Defender. “The hearings of the Ombudsman’s reports are usually scheduled for the end of the day and the TV channels also give little space to this issue,” Baghaturia said. “With these proposed amendments the administration will leave the public and media without information about the human rights violations taking place in the country. Now you are completely blocking the space,” the MP added. Baghaturia said he would present the “alternative” draft at the first draft's second hearing. “Parliament should hear more reports from the Ombudsman during the year in order to receive full information about the human rights record of the country, the situation in Georgia’s penitentiary system and the situation in terms of property rights,” MP Levan Vephkhvadze from the Christian-Democratic Movement said.

Ruling National Movement MPs dismissed the criticism of opposition lawmakers. Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee of Parliament Pavle Kublashvili said that the opposition is “protesting against the issue just to politicise it.” “They are merely trying to make the Public Defender a politically engaged person,” Kublashvili stated.

The opposition MPs left the Legal Issues Committee session as a sign of protest. No comments on this issue have been made by the Public Defender’s Office so far.