Georgia Parliament Appoints Levan Ioseliani as Public Defender

Levan Ioseliani has been appointed as Georgia’s next Public Defender, with 96 MPs present at the session voting in favour of his candidacy. A minimum of 90 votes were required to secure the position.

As part of the decision, the Chairman of the Parliament announced that Ioseliani’s powers as an MP will be terminated as soon as the resolution is adopted.

Ioseliani’s remarks

Speaking to reporters after his election, Ioseliani said that he was no longer a politician and that all his actions and statements “will be aimed at monitoring human rights.”

“As for whether I will be neutral and impartial, another six years of my activities will prove that I will be impartial, apolitical and neutral in terms of any political preferences,” he told reporters without elaborating.

Ioseliani’s biography

Before being elected as an MP through a proportional list of the Citizens party, Levan Ioseliani, 44, a lawyer by profession, ran as an independent candidate in the Mtatsminda single-mandate constituency in 2019. Earlier, in 2018, he founded a non-governmental organization Civil Movement. In 2014, he was the head of Aleko Elisashvili’s campaign headquarters. In 2001-2016, Ioseliani founded two law firms. Previously, in 1999-2001, he worked as a lawyer at the Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank.

Remarks by the ruling party leaders

“Levan Ioseliani was a representative of the opposition political party, but this compromise was necessary for our country from various points of view. One is that it was absolutely necessary to elect a public defender, this position could not be left vacant. Besides, the election of the Public Defender by qualified majority was one of the recommendations of the European Union,” Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling party, said after the election of Levan Ioseliani as Public Defender.

He criticized “a large part” of the opposition for not participating in the voting, saying that “it is hypocritical to talk about the European Union and not support a decision that is directly related to obtaining candidate status.” “I am sure that Levan Ioseliani will be an independent public defender, a true public defender, which means serving the people,” he said.

“I think, Mr. Ioseliani’s candidacy is absolutely acceptable to us… and I think our support for him will be guaranteed,” PM Irakli Garibashvili said before Ioseliani’s election.

Remarks by CSOs

A group of 16 local civil society organizations released a joint statement before Ioseliani’s election as the new public defender, noting that “the process was conducted without public involvement and participation, which is inconsistent with Recommendation 12 of the European Union, violates the Paris Principles adopted by the United Nations, and has no public trust.”

The organizations noted that the ruling majority “unreasonably rejected” the candidates selected as a result of “transparent competition and inclusive engagement,” conducting the selection process of a new candidate “behind closed doors.”

“Electing a politician to the main human rights position of the country is completely contrary to the recommendations of both the European Union and the United Nations,” the statement reads. “In times when Russian draft laws aimed against civil society are being discussed in the Georgian Parliament, which clearly separates us from the European perspective and leads to the division of society, we believe that the goal of all politicians should be to prevent the adoption of this draft law and to elect as a public defender a person who is independent, impartial and has public legitimacy.”

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