In a starkly worded statement released today, the United States Embassy in Tbilisi said the ruling Georgian Dream party undermined government accountability by abolishing the State Inspector’s Service, and undermined faith in the judiciary by appointing yet another Supreme Court justice using “a flawed selection process.”
The U.S. Embassy stated that “whether intended or not, the ruling party sent the message that independent oversight of the government or dissenting voices, even when prescribed by law, will be answered with retaliation, discipline, and dismissal.”
“The lack of transparent discussion or analysis of the amendments is particularly troubling,” noted the statement.
The U.S. Embassy also asserted that the Georgian Dream failed to provide credible reasons for why the actions were needed to be “rushed through without appropriate consultations.”
“Strong democratic institutions and adherence to the rule of law are Georgia’s best defenses against Russian aggression,” underlined the statement, adding that steps that weaken democratic institutions damage Georgia’s aspirations for NATO and EU membership.
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On December 30, the Georgian Dream-led Parliament voted to dissolve the State Inspector’s Service, an outspoken independent agency tasked with monitoring personal data protection and probing abuse of power, in defiance of local and international criticism. An unexpected initiative was publicized in media only on December 24.
State Inspector Londa Toloraia alleged that the GD wanted to “punish” the agency for being “independent, scrupulous, law-abiding” and for its decisions against other state bodies. Recently the agency found the Justice Ministry and its Penitentiary Service violating personal data protection law by releasing controversial videos of jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.
As per the new bill, two new separate bodies tasked with probing abuse of power by law enforcement and monitoring data privacy will be created.
GD Chair, MP Irakli Kobakhidze said the two functions of the Inspector’s Service were unrelated to each other, and the bill would increase investigative capacities of a new separate agency to probe abuse of power.