On February 4, the Government of Georgia said its commission selected nominees for head positions at Personal Data Protection Service and Special Investigation Service, two agencies set to succeed hastily dissolved State Inspector’s Service.
Three candidacies per each position were sent to PM Irakli Garibashvili, who will then shortlist two candidates for every posting for the Parliamentary approval.
The three nominees to head Special Investigation Service are Emzar Gagnidze, 31, Kutaisi District Prosecutor; Karlo (Koka) Katsitadze, 35, Head of Department for Procedural Guidance over Investigation in the State Inspector at the Prosecutor’s Office; Elene Alaverdashvili, who served at the Finance Ministry’s Investigation Service few years back, according to scarce information immediately available.
The three candidates shortlisted for the Personal Data Protection Service are Lela Janashvili, 51, Associate Professor of Law at Tbilisi State University, Tamar Alpaidze, 42, Professor of Law at the Georgian National University, Supreme Court justice hopeful in 2020 and Mtatsminda majoritarian candidate in 2019 by-elections; and Kakha Maghradze (Civil.ge could not identify the candidate).
The selection process comes as outgoing State Inspector Londa Toloraia has lodged an appeal at Georgia’s Constitutional Court against the disbanding of her office.
Toloraia argues, among others, that terminating her authority before her six-year term was up and kicking off the selection for the chiefs of two new bodies, contravened Article 25 of Georgian Constitution on the right to hold public office.
Giorgi Burjanadze, Deputy Public Defender who served as a member of the selection commission, said he voted only for one candidate among the six shortlisted.
The Deputy Ombudsperson noted that remaining candidates had an issue either with professional competence or independence. “No candidate, except for the one, could dare to criticize the dissolution of the State Inspector’s Service.”
Meanwhile, government-critical Mtavari Arkhi TV claims the governing party would eventually endorse Katsitadze as the chief of the Special Investigation Service and Janashvili as the head of the Data Protection agency.
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The Georgian Dream fast-tracked the abolition of the State Inspector’s Service, an independent agency tasked with monitoring personal data protection and probing abuse of power, at the extraordinary parliamentary sessions on December 29-30.
The unexpected dissolution came as the State Inspector’s Service, along with the Public Defender have remained critical over the GD government’s handling of jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.
While the ruling party disregarded local and international criticism against the move, it backed down to allow retaining State Inspector’s Service staff in new bodies, a revision not covering either the State Inspector Toloraia or her deputies.
Georgian Dream Chair MP Irakli Kobakhidze argued that “replacing one agency with two” would not diminish the authority of either of the Inspector’s current functions, but instead would increase the investigative capacities of the forthcoming separate agency to probe abuse of power.
On February 1, EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell recalled that the establishment of the State Inspector’s Service had served as one of the preconditions for Georgia’s visa-free regime with the European Union.