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Candidates for post of public defender

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, October 12
Georgian NGO's named their candidates for the post of public defender (ombudsman) during a special press conference held on October 11th. Most of NGO's voted for Tamar Gurchiani, from the Young Georgian Lawyers Association (GYLA).

Gurchiani was officially presented as a nominee by Tamar Chugoshvili, chairperson of GYLA, who was also nominated. However Chugoshivili withdrew her candidature in favor of Gurchiani, the most supported candidate, with 39 NGOs wanting her to take the post of public defender.

Organizations working for the protection of human rights held intense meetings before finally deciding on a nominee. NGO representatives considered the professional and personal skills of the available candidates. The candidates had to be free from any political influence and should have never been connected with any political party.

Tamar Gurchiani, who is considered to be one of the best lawyers in the country, has worked on the protection of human rights for many years. She has also worked on various national or international projects promoting media freedom, fair elections and improving the transparency of state institutions. Gurchiani, who studied law in Georgia and in U.S.A, has worked as an expert and consultant for many organizations including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the World Bank.

An official statement published on the GYLA's website states that considering her high qualifications and experience Gurchiani is the best candidate. “She has all the required personal skills." the statement reads. “As Public Defender Tamar Gurchiani will be productive, as she is well aware of the social, cultural, economic, social and political problems and is sensitive to all social groups in the country.” the statement added.

However Gurchiani is not the only candidate for the position. A number of organizations have expressed their support for Lia Mukhashavria, who is a very experienced barrister and highly qualified human rights defender. The Independent Experts’ Club and Young Barristers believe that Mukhashavria is the best choice to become public defender.

Among the other candidates for the position are barrister Gia Nikolaishvili and ex-member of parliament Dimitry Lortkipanidze.

According to the law everyone is eligible to name a candidate for Public Defender, however officially individuals can be nominated either by the President, a Parliamentary Fraction, or by an initiative group of at least 6 MPs. The candidate is elected by a majority of members of Parliament. The Georgian Constitution states: “The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms within the territory of Georgia shall be supervised by the Public Defender of Georgia who shall be elected for a term of five years by the majority of the total number of the members of the Parliament of Georgia.”