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21 Feb 2020

ENNHRI and partners issue a joint statement in support of the Georgian Public Defender

On 21 February 2020, ENNHRI, in collaboration with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), Equinet – European Network of Equality Bodies, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst have issued a statement to support the Georgian NHRI (Public Defender of Georgia), following the state’s breach of the confidentiality of the Public Defender’s prison visits, and subsequent attacks on the institution.

We express the concern that recent actions by the Georgian state are in contradiction with domestic, regional and international standards. According to these standards, NHRIs and their staff should not face any form of reprisal or intimidation as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their mandates.

The actions of the government of Georgia risk deteriorating a conducive environment for the Georgian Public Defender to carry out its work effectively and independently. The disclosure of confidential information can undermine the Public Defender’s work and may put its staff at risk. It could also have negative repercussions to prisoners with whom the Public Defender met and break the trust between them.

The statement calls on Georgian state institutions to uphold these international principles and to promptly and thoroughly investigate such cases, in cooperation with the Public Defender.

The Georgian NHRI is a highly respected institution within the broader international human rights community and has been re-accredited with A-status, indicating its full compliance with the UN Paris Principles.

» Download the statement