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Georgian Dream nominates Khatiskatsi for Public Defender

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 8
The Georgian Dream government has offered the post of the Public Defender to election analyst and former director of Transparency International Georgia, Nina Khatiskatsi. This was confirmed by Khatiskatsi, on November 7th.

According to Khatiskatsi the new government does not intend to appoint Tamar Gurchiani as Public Defender and that is why she agreed to be the candidate for the prestigious post.

“I supported Gurchiani’s candidacy. However, it turned out that the coalition did not intend to name her as the candidate for Public Defender. Earlier, I removed my candidacy in favor of Gurchiani but the government explained to me that she [Gurchiani] had no political support from within the coalition.” Khatiskatsi stated.

Khatiskatsi also stressed that the post of Public Defender is a very important position and that it was not easy for her to agree to accept.

“However, I think that it is time to take the responsibility.” Khatiskatsi said.

According to Georgian Dream representative Davit Saganelidze, Khatiskatsi was the most acceptable candidate for the new government and they will hold a meeting with her on November 8th.

“She will share her views with us. I think that she will be acceptable for all majority representatives,” Saganelidze said.

Fellow Georgian Dream representative Tina Khidasheli, shared Saganelidze’s view and emphasized that Khatiskatsi is a very principled person with great experience working with NGO's and in cooperation with international organizations.

Unied National Movement member Goga Khachidze suggested that there has been undue interference in the process of selecting the candidates for the post.

“We will discuss the issue and will voice our concerns in the near future.” Khachidze said.

The issue of appointing a new Public Defender has become quite problematic. Several candidates have been nominated by various organizations. Tamar Gurchiani was the favorite. She was nominated by more than 100 NGO's and media organizations. Gurchaini is a member of Young Lawyers’ Associations, was educated in the United States and she has serious experience in defending human rights.

Gurchaini had stated that if she were appointed Public Defender all members of society, regardless of their religious, ethnic or sexual views would be defended equally.

“I do not know why my candidacy was unacceptable for the parliamentary majority. I think that the majority representatives should explain why. As for Khatiskatsi’s candidacy, I have never spoken about other candidates, have never described them and in this case I'm not going to speak about her,” Gurchiani told The Messenger. She has also emphasized that civil society was actively involved in choosing a new Public Defender before the announcement of Khatiskatsi's nomination.

Former Member of Parliament and lawyer Dimitri Lortkipanidze, lawyer Lia Mukhashavria and lawyer and human rights defender Gela Nikolaishvili have also been named as candidates for Public Defender.

Mukhashavria stated that the coalition has the legal right to name its official candidate for the post and added that the Public Defender will have more responsibility than ever before.

“I hope she will acclimate quickly to the responsibility of the position. Currently there are speculations that certain individuals have become political prisoners and in this regard her position and actions will be important.” Mukhashavria said.

Tamar Chugoshvili, head of the Young Lawyer’s Association told The Messenger that Parliament disrupted the process of choosing the new Public Defender and civil society’s role was not taken into consideration.

“Parliament practically violated all the rules concerning this issue. Selecting the Public Defender should have been one of the first decisions made by the Parliament but the process was lengthened. Why did they [Parliament] complicate the issue so much and have the nominated candidates appear so frequently in public?” Chugoshvili said.

Chugoshvili added that she has nothing against Khatiskatsi, however, “She is very competent and professional regarding election issues but as far as I know she has no experience in the field of human rights. That factor should be taken into consideration,” Chugoshvili stated.

Chugoshvili appealed to Parliament to abide by the rules regarding the nomination and negotiate with civil society by taking their views into consideration.