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Public defender candidates discuss their priorities

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, October 25
Gela Nikolaishvili, Dimitri Lortkipanidze, Tamar Gurchiani, Lia Mukhashavria, the candidates nominated to take the post of the public defender, were hosted by the Kviris Argumentebi, a political talk show on Maestro TV.

The nominees are highly-qualified lawyers, with many years of professional experience in the human rights field, but they had to speak about their advantages and major priorities they have to follow as candidates trying to take one of the most important posts in the country. All guests attending the show agreed that it is a great achievement that civil society finally had a chance to name their own candidates; previously public defenders were usually elected based on political arrangements.

When Gela Nikolaishvili was asked by the show's host what the major activities of the public defender should be, he replied that it is important to study and distinguish what the major reasons for human rights violations are in the country and afterwards, find out why these reasons occur– is there a problem with legislation or illegal activities from state officials? Nikolaishvili believes that currently, the country needs to deal with the supremacy of law, which still needs to be established as well as a fair judiciary system.

Dimitri Lortkipanidze expressed his gratitude to society for supporting his candidature and especially to the parents of detainees, who expressed their wish to see him taking the post of the ombudsman. As a solicitor Lortkipanidze has worked on numerous cases on violations in prisons, he has been protecting detainees’ rights for many years.

Just like Nikoleishvili, Lortkipanidze also spoke about the necessity of establishing a fair judiciary system and to fight against violations of property rights.

For Lortkipanidze there are not particular preferences in the ombudsman's work; every single right is a priority he says. Tamar Gurchiani absolutely agreed with the statement and added that the ombudsman should reach those who are not capable to protect their rights and need help with it.

Tamar Gurchiani is relatively unknown to greater society than the other candidates are, but as supporters say, this should not be an issue, as popularity is not that important if the candidate is a good professional.

Gurchiani says that the post of a public defender should be one of the most powerful, as this is a mechanism controlling the government; even if the government is as good as possible. “The king may be very generous, but still needs to be monitored,” she says.

The fourth candidate Lia Mukhashavria, was the last to talk about how she sees the post of the public defender. A barrister, she has been working on major cases at the European Human Rights Court, and agrees that the previous work done in the field should be the major criteria while choosing the future public defender.

“Politicians should understand one thing: state officials are those who violate the rights that we have to protect. Our professional duty requires us complain against the government when they are infringing on human rights.”

Sozar Subari, a former public defender and now an MP, joined the talk show from Kutaisi via a live television feed. The host asked Subari about the latest rumors– that the new government is trying to lobby one of the candidates. “The information is not correct of course,” Subari replied. He confirmed that some consultations were held and as a result, several individuals with high qualification in human rights protection were asked to agree and also become the nominees, but some have refused. “It is parliament's job to search for as many worthy candidates as possible,” Subari commented, but he strictly refused the claim that the new government is trying to pull one of the nominees.

At the end of the show, all candidates promised to always remain absolutely free from political influences in the case that they take the post of the public defender.