Human rights situation in Georgia discussed in Brussels; Ombudsman: “Significant improvements, but many challenges still to be addressed”

At an event co-hosted by International Partnership for Human Rights and the Open Society European Policy Institute in Brussels last week, Georgian Public Defender (Ombudsman) Ucha Nanuashvili spoke about the human rights situation in Georgia.

Presenting an 900-hundred-page report prepared by his office regarding the protection of human rights and freedoms in Georgia in 2014, Mr. Nanuashvili noted that the situation has improved in a number of areas. The problem of prison overcrowding has been tackled to a great extent; ill-treatment in custody is no longer systematic, although the Ombudsman’s office still receives complaints about alleged ill-treatment; the judicial independence has been improved and the media landscape is vibrant. At the same time, the Public Defender expressed concerns about the lack of professionalism of prosecutors and the lack of responsiveness when his office submits requests in cases of alleged ill-treatment in closed institutions. Mr. Nanuashvili and his team also addressed, among others, issues concerning human rights in conflict zones and the fight against discrimination.

Last year, the number of requests submitted to the Ombudman’s office increased by over 50%, especially after the adoption of an antidiscrimination law by the Georgian parliament. The office now employs 120 people, and has a number of departments, e.g. on issues concerning gender equality, human rights in the armed forces and analytical studies. The European Union is one of the major financial supporters of the work of the Public Defender’s office in Georgia.