Meeting of Democracy and Governance Working Group of U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission

On May 23, 2017, the Public Defender of Georgiatook part in the 10thmeeting of the Democracy and Governance Working Group of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission.

TheGeorgian delegation was led at the meeting by First Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani and First Deputy Justice Minister Alexandre Baramidze. The co-chairs of the meeting from the U.S. side wereBridget Brink,U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European andEurasian Affairs, Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy,Human Rightsand Labour, and Margot Ellis, Acting Assistant Administrator forEurope and Eurasia at USAID.

The Public Defender reviewed the right to a fair trial and freedom of the media. He emphasized the shortcomings in the constitutional reform,including the necessity of establishment of an effective mechanism for supervising labour rights and an independent investigative mechanism, which have not been reflected in the draft constitutional amendments. He criticized the amendments to the article regulating the Public Defender's activities, which, according to him, will lead to weakening of the Public Defender's mandate.

Ucha Nanuashvili expressed hope that the Constitutional Commission and the Parliament will consider his opinions.

When talking about the developments in the Rustavi 2 TV company and the Public Broadcaster in the context of media pluralism, Ucha Nanuashvili said that it is necessary the danger of interference with the freedom of expression by the Government to be eliminated.

The Public Defenderpraised the development of an electronic system of distribution of cases in the court, which had been one of his most important recommendations. However, he noted that despite the positive changes of the third wave reform of the justice system, there are still shortcomings that prevent the independence of the judiciary and correct implementation of the reform.

The US sidestressed the importance of strategic partnership with Georgia and noted that the U.S. will continue to support the construction of democratic institutions in Georgia.

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