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U.S. Ambassador Backs Ombudsperson, Decries ‘Politicized Attacks’

Following a March 22 meeting between U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan and Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, the U.S. Embassy said it is “concerned about politicized attacks on the Public Defender’s Office, which damage this important institution and undermine its effectiveness.”

Noting that the Ombudsperson’s Office is “an essential independent institution for protecting human rights and democratic development in Georgia,” the U.S. Embassy called on the Parliament to constructively engage with the Office and support its role.

The Public Defender said during the meeting she discussed the challenges faced by the Office in recent months, as well as factors hindering the full implementation of the Ombudsperson’s mandate, including barriers to monitoring semi-open prisons in Georgia.

“The Ambassador’s visit is yet another confirmation of the U.S. Government’s consistent support for the Public Defender’s Office,” Nino Lomjaria underscored.

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria most recently became subject to criticism from senior lawmakers of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party after she condemned the detention of United National Movement chairman Nika Melia. Former GD lawmaker and currently Culture Minister Tea Tsulukiani then said she does not regard the Public Defender to be “a serious and competent” person. Earlier, ahead of the 2020 parliamentary elections, Georgian Dream chairman Irakli Kobakhidze referred to Lomjaria as “the opposition’s Ombudsperson.”

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