Dozens of civil society organizations said on October 11 that they want to see a lawyer Tamar Gurchiani to be elected as new Public Defender.
The post is vacant since September 20 after then public defender, Giorgi Tugushi, was appointed by President Saakashvili as new minister for penitentiary system, following prison abuse scandal.
Gurchiani, 32, is now a board chairperson of a Tbilisi-based election watchdog International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED); she spent most of her professional career working for legal advocacy and rights watchdog Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) in 2004-2010; she has worked in areas such as human rights, freedom of information and providing legal defense to media.
The joint statement in support of Gurchiani’s nomination is signed by 39 non-governmental organizations, among them GYLA; ISFED; Multinational Georgia, an umbrella organization for dozens of NGOs working on ethnic and religious minority issues; as well as several gay rights groups.
Gurchiani, who is now in Ukraine as a long-term observer for parliamentary elections there, praised former Public Defender Giorgi Tugushi’s time in office, but also told Maestro TV via phone on October 11, that, if elected, she would be speaking out against human rights violations “more vocally.”
According to the law Public Defender has to be elected by the Parliament for a five-year term.
The President, a parliamentary faction or a group of six lawmakers not united in any faction, have the right to nominate a candidate for the Public Defender’s post.
If there are several candidates, the Parliament should vote each of them and the one who garners most of the lawmakers’ votes, but not less than 76, will be confirmed on the post.