The Parliament of Georgia adopted the controversial new bill, modifying the rules nominating the next Public Defender. 83 MPs voted in favor of the bill, and none opposed. On the eve of the vote, the Public Defender’s Office criticized the process of rushed adoption, as well as the substance of the text. These concerns were not taken into account.
The new law would require the Parliament Chairperson, Shalva Papuashvili, to nominate the candidates by the end of this year. The term of the current Public Defender expires on December 8, 2022.
To assist with nominations, Speaker Papuashvili will set up a panel, made up of nine members from civil society, professional and academic circles. Prior to creating the group, the Speaker is meant to consult the Parliamentary parties and political groups.
This panel will evaluate the applications (except those of the persons who may have previously held the Ombudsperson position, or of the foreign citizens) and nominate the candidates. The criteria for evaluation are independence, impartiality, high reputation, professional knowledge, and practical experience in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The new changes stipulate that Parliament will begin considering candidates when at least seven individuals have been nominated by the competent entities. Otherwise, the procedure will re-start. Notably, the list of competent entities needs to be defined by the Parliament Chairperson subsequently, through a special order.
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