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Hammarberg calls on Georgians to focus on future

By Ana Robakidze
Tuesday, September 24
EU Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU’s Special Advisor to Georgia on Legal and Constitutional Issues, Thomas Hammarberg presented his report “Georgia on the Transient Stage”.

Speaking at the special press conference on September 22nd, Hammarberg mainly focused on the violation of social and economic rights in Georgia. The EU Commissioner mentioned children’s rights are subject to frequent violations in the country and poverty and the restricted access to education. Hammarberg stated that child poverty and a bad education system should become one of the major political priorities for the new government, advising the government to carry out necessary institutional reforms.

Hammarberg was less critical to the latest legislation amendments in Georgia. Commenting on the draft law on common courts, he said the draft does not contradict the recommendations suggested by the Venice Commission.

“In the High Council of Justice, the rules for electing a judge are much more democratic and judges have more power than before. The rules for electing non-judge members of the High Council of Justice have also improved and it is important that the non- judge members are not politicians, but lawyers and law specialists. There were one or two alternative proposals from the Venice Commission, which were not reflected in the law, but the same document, spoke about possibilities of searching for other mechanisms,” Hammarberg said, speaking about the necessity of establishing independent judicial system.

The EU commissioner also speaks about the necessity to develop democratic institutions and especially to strengthen the Public Defender’s office in the country, as for Hammerber the office is the major tool for human rights protection. In the report, he called the recent incidents that took place between Christian and Muslim communities in Georgia, harassment.

Hammerberg included statements and facts obtained by the United National Movement (UNM) members about election violations. He explained that he has not observed the election campaign, but still he had decided to mention it in his report, as “there were certain facts of intimidation when candidates were hampered in carrying out their campaigns,” Hammerberg said, adding that ensuring freedom of expression is very important especially during election campaigns.

In the report, the EU Commissioner had several recommendations and messages for the government and society. The first recommendation would be to study the thousands of complaints that have been filed to the prosecutor and public defender's offices after the October election.

“Each of these claims requires detailed study. It is necessary that each of them be replied to. It is also important that the investigation into the cases of former high-ranking officials not to be politicized. In this regard, there are questions not only inside, but also outside the country and it is important to avoid all this and to prevent the politicization of this process. This is the first unequivocal message from my side," Hammarberg said at the press conference.

The second recommendation Hammarberg has for the society, is that he asks the Georgian people “not to look only in the past and to start thinking about the future.”

The report is the summary of eight months of observations Hammarberg had carried out in Georgia. He had numerous meetings with people in the government, legislation, civil society and the media and prepared the document in the capacity of an independent expert.