ENNHRI and Partners Release Joint Statement
The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions and its partners have issued a joint statement in support of the Public Defender of Georgia.
“Due to its recent work, the Georgian Public Defender (Georgian NHRI) has faced continued verbal threats and attacks by prominent politicians. In light of these concerning developments, ENNHRI, the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet), the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), and the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) have issued ajoint statementin support of the institution.
Prominent politicians have subjected the staff and leadership of the Georgian Public Defender, as well as experts cooperating with them, to verbal attacks and threats on account of the institution’s recent work.
The statements, which were reported by media and civil society organisations, include ones discrediting the institution, threatening experts with legal action, making derogatory remarks towards staff, and questioning the institution’s mandate and powers.
These actions impact negatively on the enabling environment the Public Defender needs to conduct its work as a multi-mandate institution effectively and independently. Such public threats can also trigger further attacks from other groups or individuals, leading to concerns for the safety of the institution’s staff and leadership. This can have negative repercussions on the public image, credibility, and trust of the overall population vis-à-vis the institution.
The joint statement voices our support for the Georgian NHRI and underlines that the recent developments violate regional and international standards. These affirm that NHRIs and their staff should face neither reprisal nor intimidation as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their respective mandates.
We call on the Georgian Government and Parliament to uphold the clearly defined international principles, and protect the Georgian NHRI from intimidation, threats, or any actions that may limit its independence and effectiveness.
Indeed, they have a duty to ensure that institutions that monitor the state are protected from undue interference, and are not hindered in their work to promote and protect human rights, equality, good governance, and the rule of law.
We stand ready to support, assist and advise all relevant authorities further on their obligation to ensure an enabling environment for the Georgian NHRI”, reads the statement.