Georgian Dream parliamentary majority named Nina Khatiskatsi as its candidate for the vacant post of Public Defender.
Khatiskatsi, whose nomination has to be confirmed by the Parliament, worked for Tbilisi-based watchdog group Transparency International Georgia for last eight years; she was program director at TI Georgia until July, 2012 when she was dismissed over disagreements with the watchdog group’s top management; Khatiskatsi complained at the time that her dismissal was unjustified.
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 for each of them and the one who garners most of the votes, but not less than 76, will be confirmed on the post.
There have been several would-be candidates for the Public Defender’s post, who were named by various civil society groups, among them Tamar Gurchiani; Ucha Nanuashvili, executive director of Human Rights Center; former MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze; lawyer Gela Nikolaishvili; Natia Imnadze, head of the National Preventive Mechanism at the Public Defender’s Office and Lia Mukhashavria of Human Rights Priority.
Khatiskatsi herself was initially supporting nomination of Tamar Gurchiani, but as she said she decided to accept a proposal from the Georgian Dream to be named as a candidate after learning that Gurchiani had no support from the parliamentary majority.
“There have been many candidates, but there was an agreement within the parliamentary majority to support Khatiskatsi,” MP Zurab Abashidze of the Georgian Dream said.
Khatiskatsi’s husband was a Georgian Dream activist with a majoritarian MP candidate in Mestia single-mandate constituency ahead of the October 1 parliamentary elections. Khatiskatsi says that her husband had never been a senior figure with the Georgian Dream and it could not serve as a reason for claiming that as a Public Defender she would be biased.
“My husband is not even a member of the Georgian Dream,” Khatiskatsi told Info9 news agency on November 7. “He was a Georgian Dream activist who was helping his friend, a majoritarian MP candidate in Mestia [Victor Japaridze] who was then elected in the Parliament. He of course shares the principles of [the Georgian Dream] and that’s why he was helping them… but it cannot in anyway become a reason that Public Defender will face obstacles during performing her duties and that [she] will be biased.”
The post of the Public Defender is vacant since September 20 after then ombudsman Giorgi Tugushi was appointed by President Saakashvili as minister for penitentiary system, following prison abuse scandal. Tugushi served on the post for five weeks before he was replaced by also a former public defender Sozar Subari after the new cabinet led by PM Bidzina Ivanishvili took office on October 25.