CoE Human Rights Commissioner Backs Georgian Public Defender amid Attacks

Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, on November 23 decried as unacceptable the “public attacks by members of the Georgian Parliament” against Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, over her and her office’s work related to the incarceration of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and his hunger strike.

The statement comes as Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze on November 18 warned the Public Defender of liability over the possible consequences of the assessment by the medical experts, assembled by the ombudsperson to monitor Saakashvili’s condition and treatment.

The CoE Human Rights Commissioner said the issue was high on her agenda during the November 22 meeting with the GD chair and parliamentary European Integration Committee Chair Maka Bochorishvili, who are visiting Strasbourg.

She commended Ombudsperson Lomjaria and the Public Defender’s Office “for their efforts to uphold the highest possible standards of protection of the human rights of all individuals over whom the Georgian authorities exercise jurisdiction.”

The Commissioner also pointed out that under the Venice Commissions’ Principles on the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institution, member states are obliged to effectively protect their Public Defenders “from any threats or action aiming at or resulting in any hurdles to their effective functioning.”

“I call on the Georgian authorities to ensure that the Public Defender, her office and associated experts can operate in a climate that is conducive to them carrying out their mandate independently, effectively and safely,” Commissioner Mijatović stressed.

She argued it is crucially important for all citizens of Georgia as well as the country’s international partners to be able to count on the expertise of the Public Defender.

Public Defender’s Office had called on the United Nations, CoE, OSCE/ODIHR as well as diplomatic missions to look into the Georgian Dream chair’s statement, “an attempt to attack and intimidate an independent constitutional body and its experts.”

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