Some representatives of the Georgian judiciary, civil society organizations and politicians have commented on the U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2018, released on March 13.
Civil.ge offers you these comments:
Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani: “All recommendations given by our American partners should be taken into consideration and we always do that, but let me draw your attention to the fact that this report does not contain any assessments by the United States [itself]; this report, is a compilation of assessments by various civil society organizations and opposition parties.”
MP Salome Samadashvili, United National Movement: “According to this report, there is no independent judiciary in this country. If the government does not change, if the current political system does not change, our country won’t be safe, it won’t have secure future, and no Euro-Atlantic future at all.”
MP Giorgi Kandelaki, European Georgia: “It is sufficient to take cursory glance at the text to see that this is a critical assessment. It reiterates the OSCE[/ODIHR] conclusions on elections, saying that the elections were very bad. It talks about corruption, impunity… it emphasizes that law enforcement bodies are not independent, meaning that they are a political weapon in the hands of this government.”
Members of the Judiciary
Giorgi Mikautadze, Secretary of the High Council of Justice: “The report directly refers to the source of the conclusions made by the authors, and this source is the Coalition [for Independent and Free Judiciary] and civil society organizations, which – it is obvious to all – keep voicing one and the same complaints against the judiciary… It is important to know what sources this information is based on.”
Sergo Metopishvili, judge, member of the High Council of Justice: “This is the report, which is based on the reports by the Transparency International Georgia and other politicized NGOs… [Eka] Gigauri [Head of TI Georgia] actually spreads rumors. She collects such rumors and sends them to our international partners, because she is politicized. The Department of State simply wrote what it received from Gigauri. It cannot be called research. Like there are “fake news” this is “a fake report” published by Gigauri and [the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association’s Sulkhan] Saladze.
Nazi Janezashvili, non-judge member of the High Council of Justice (HCoJ): “The report clearly mentions a ‘clan’ [an influential group of Supreme Court judges which, allegedly, does political bidding of the ruling party] and naturally, it should become the reason for the government to raise the alarm and to implement such reforms, which would restrict the existence of clans in the HCoJ and the judiciary.”
Civil Society Organisations
Mikheil Benidze, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy: “The tone and the context of the report clearly shows a critical position of the U.S. Department of State towards attacks against the civil society organisations. Naturally, it is a kind of a warning to the government and towards concrete persons. Regrettably, we still witness the continuation of the same rhetoric [that was criticized in the report], today.”
Eka Gigauri, Transparency International Georgia: “Clearly, the conclusion is critical, of course, it is not pleasant; but it is very important for us to work for avoiding such critical reports on Georgia in the future. Such reports come to largely shape our relations with our partners. Therefore, we should all try our best to see less criticism in these reports.”
Sulkhan Saladze, Georgian Young Lawyers Association: “When the government says that the civil society is connected to a political group and that it has political motivations, of course, the government cannot say the same after seeing the problems and challenges described in the report. The government should outline a concrete plan on how to solve these problems. When we are talking about the problems in the judiciary for years, when we are talking about challenges to the media… election-related problems, which we all saw during the last presidential elections – this is only a small list of problems that we were constantly talking about with the government through media outlets. The government, however, always points out that we discuss these issues as a part of our political agenda, rather than because there are real problems to discuss.”