Visit of the International Advisory Board of the Public Defender

On April 14 - 15, 2015, the Public Defender’s Office was visited by members of the International Advisory Board: Adviser of the Norwegian HelsinkiCommittee Aage Borchgrevink, conflict and cooperation expert Jorgen Johansen and UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity Virginia Dandan.

During the two-day meetings, the Public Defender and members of the Public Defender’s Office presented a brief review of the previous years’ activities, discussed structural changes that were implemented in the Office following the broadening of the Public Defender mandate. A special emphasis was put on direction and action plan of the work of newly-established departments.

The international experts gave a positive assessment to an initiative of the Public Defender to establish a human rights school that in the near future will be launched and bring a special contribution in to the raising the level of civic education.

On April 15, after meetings and consultations, Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili and members of the International Advisory Board held a press-conference.

Ucha Nanuashvili briefly reviewed last years’ recommendations of the Advisory Board and results of their fulfillment. On the basis of cooperation and recommendations of the board the Public Defender conducted various studies and prepared several reports on the situation of human rights and freedoms in conflict regions, also intensified cooperation with international human rights organizations.

Ms. Virginia Dandan talked about international obligations assumed by Georgia; she noted that on the course of 15 years, Georgia failed to present a report on fulfillment of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. With this respect, the expert believes that the Public Defender has a big role in convincing the Georgian authorities in the necessity of preparation of the above-mentioned report.

Mr. Aage Borchgrevink talked about the issues of investigation of the special operation in the Lopota Gorge in August 2012 and noted that despite special report and recommendations of the Public Defender, as well as high interest of the public and International organizations, no progress is noted to this day with respect to the investigation.

At the press-conference, Mr. Borchgrevink stated that he constantly follows progress of investigation of similar cases in Georgia and completely agrees with the Public Defender’s recommendation on establishment of the independent investigative mechanism.

Mr. Jorgen Johansen positively assessed activates carried out by the Public Defender in recent years in the direction of protection of human rights and noted that the organization with such great importance and workload has such small office premises and that the building is not enough for the staff that has doubled, as well as it is not adapted to persons with special needs. The international expert believes it to be necessary for the Georgian authorities to provide the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia with more comfortable and safe building in a short period of time.

Establishment of the Advisory Board was a part of the strategical action plan of 2013. The objective for the board is to enhance protection of human rights in Georgia and to define priorities and perspectives with this respect; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Maina Kiai who could not take part in the meeting is also a member of the Advisory Board.

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