The term of office of the current Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, expires on December 8, 2022, and the Parliament must select a new Public Defender by December 1, through voting.
The list of candidates for public defender consists of 19 people, among which three people – Ana Abashidze, Nazi Janezashvili and Giorgi Burjanadze – were nominated by non-governmental organizations.
Queer decided to find out the vision and evaluations of the candidates for the position of public defender regarding LGBTQI rights, so we addressed each candidate with the same questions. Two of the 19 candidates, Ketevan Chachava and Tinatin Erkvania, answered our questions in writing, telephone interviews were held with 16 candidates. One of the candidates, Nikoloz Nikoladze, was contacted by Queer throughout the week, however, after the interview was postponed several times, Nikoladze told us that he could not be interviewed due to his health condition and limited himself to a general assessment, so his answers were not reflected in the article. In addition, during the period of working on the article, another candidate, Jemal Natelashvili, requested the removal of his own candidacy, so his answers were not reflected in the material.
NOTE: THE HOMOPHOBIC, TRANSPHOBIC, SEXIST, STEREOTYPICAL VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THE ARTICLE DO NOT EXPRESS QUEER’S POSITION, HOWEVER, DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE OPINION OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER CANDIDATES ON THE MENTIONED ISSUES IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC INTEREST, WE ARE OFFERING THEM UNCHANGED.
Queer’s first question was about the violation of LGBTQI rights in Georgia. We were interested in the general evaluation of the candidates. Most of them believe that the rights of LGBTQ people in the country are being violated. Iago Khvichia noted that “I think there is no group of people in Georgia, be it based on sexual orientation, age group, ethnicity or if you wish to divide it into any other type, where we can say that people of this group are never oppressed”.
In response to the question, Sofio Demetrashvili noted that “in her subjective opinion, everyone is equal before the law” and according to her, “it doesn’t matter what kind of sexual worldview an individual has”, the state is obliged to protect their rights.
According to Evgenia Tavadze, “of course, there will be cases of individual oppression. they have the right to hold a demonstration, they have the opportunity to speak. They are given their freedom within certain limits, in a certain area.”
Levan Kokorashvili noted that the violation of LGBTQI rights “happens to a certain extent” and stated that he disagrees with “a lot of things”.
Giorgi Mariamidze and Sergo Makharadze neither confirmed nor denied the violation of rights. Giorgi Mariamidze noted that during his legal career, no person “belonging to this community” has ever contacted him, thus he does not have any information about violation of rights in this regard. And according to Sergo Makharadze, “before we announce something, we should study the issue accordingly and then we should give an answer whether the violation of rights has occurred.” He asked Queer to provide information about a specific “incident” so he could look into it and then respond.
According to Maka Mindiashvili, the candidate for the Public Defender’s Office, nothing happens anymore as it used to happen.
“The rights of Elgebete (purposeful mispronunciation of the term LGBTQI) people?! What do you mean by violation? I don’t think it’s anything like what was happening, I think society has changed its mind, especially in the recent period. My answer is, now it is not violated as much as it used to be. Do you understand what I mean, it used to annoy some people, now people are used to it, the attitude towards such people in the society has changed,” said Maka Mindiashvili.
After the introductory question, Queer asked the candidates for public defender about basic issues related to LGBTQI rights and safety. We offer the answers unchanged.
IF YOU BECOME A PUBLIC DEFENDER, WHAT WILL BE YOUR VISION IN THE DIRECTION OF STRENGTHENING THE RIGHTS OF LGBTQI COMMUNITY?
Ana Abashidze: I think that one of the main, priority directions that the public defender should have is the strengthening of the policy of equality and work aimed at it, with all the resources that the public defender has within the mandate. Of course, there are many specifics in this direction, which, first of all, the public defender should know, work very close to the community and take into account their views and ideas on how to improve the situation. In addition, the public defender must always be clear, unambiguous, they must not avoid speaking directly and very emphatically on the subject due to different sentiments or pressures, and in fact on every platform where they will speak about human rights, one of the leading topics must be the rights of LGBTQI people. The recommendations that the public defender will work on should be very specific and sometimes harsh, that much is a given. The problem here is that not only is it good to develop a standard of human rights in general, but we are talking about respecting the dignity of people and sometimes, unfortunately, even saving their lives.
Marika Arevadze: It is important to develop a state policy, which does not exist today, and in this regard, there is work to be done in the direction of raising awareness, in the direction of overcoming hate speech.
Giorgi Burjanadze: I think two main directions are important. The first is to raise awareness, to call for tolerance of society in any space, and the second is to demand responsibility for those responsible in cases of rights violations. Perhaps this is what, one can say, should be actively implemented, and beyond these two there are also needs, which imply the abolition of discriminatory legislation through constitutional proceedings, submission of relevant opinions to the court, use of international mechanisms. There is a whole range, a palette, that the mandate of the public defender has, and probably all of them can be used.
Lela Gafrindashvili: The first thing I will do is, of course, I am a gender researcher and I have been teaching this discipline for years at the university, but I think that in terms of doing something important, the public defender needs more competence than theoretical, he needs practically what problems in de facto reality these people have, so we need not theories, but reality and a full picture of that reality in order to act.
Sofio Demetrashvili: Sofio Demetrashvili: There were talks of separation by legislation. I am against this, there should not be a separation, it should not be allowed, in this case all sexual worldviews will be divided and everyone will be given certain rights or their rights will not be restricted. Of course, this is completely unacceptable, that’s why I say, if I will be the public defender, I will be the public defender of everyone, regardless of worldview or any other indicator. If there is a need that they want freedom of expression, of course, even public speeches, even holding events, similar to those beautiful events that are held in other countries, of course, I will not have any objection, on the contrary, if someone is against I will protect everyone’s rights as much as possible, including those who are against it, and I will try my best to explain to them, even in public, that we are all equal so we all understand the concept of “human”, regardless of political opinion.
Tinatin Erkvania: I haven’t been in Georgia in recent years and I’ve missed certain social practices to some extent. However, I actively follow current events and try to have detailed information about the legal status of this type of minorities or their discriminatory treatment… in general, I will try my best to improve the current legislation to the extent that sexual minorities do not perceive themselves as an oppressed social group… and at the same time, in a form that all this is in accordance with the modern achievements of human rights law. In general, the issue of minorities is often the subject of political speculation, and this should be put to an end. And in what form? Precisely by fully defining the legal status of sexual minorities and fighting against the malicious social practices that exist in Georgia.
Evgenia Tavadze: I, for my part, will try to ensure that the rights of minorities are protected in such a way that there are no rude interferences. I would focus on the economic condition, socio-economic condition of a person, if it is grossly violated, I would focus on that. On the other hand, the ombudsman does not have the right to interfere with the voluntary actions of an individual, unless it violates the law.
Aleksandre Kobaidze: Community gathering is important. The state should work more so that people do not differ in opinion. I will act as a mediator.
Levan Kokorashvili: Within the framework of my mandate, I will use all the given means and resources to the maximum extent to protect the rights of that group at the maximum legislative level. I will do my best so that all people can exercise their rights. I am a candidate who thinks a lot about vulnerable groups, including the LGBT community. They are a society, they are human beings, you cannot harass them, use hate speech against them, etc.
Nugzar Kokhreidze: I think that the public defender in her last report also made certain recommendations, which I agree with, and I believe that the main direction in this regard should be maintained. I think we need to continue working with the public, raising awareness, dealing with fears, myths, misconceptions, to increase acceptance. In addition, we must work towards the protection of the LGBTQI community. In terms of economic, social, healthcare, housing, their rights are not protected and all this needs work. The pandemic has aggravated the current situation and we need to strengthen them in this regard. I think that the already existing mechanisms, which are possibly not enough, should be put to work in reality. The important part is to start a dialogue. A mode of constant dialogue and clarification is necessary. We create society together and we need to find points of contact to reduce aggression, pressure, non-acceptance and give people more freedom.
Giorgi Mariamidze: Some organizations believe that Orthodoxy is the biggest evil, the reason being that the Orthodox church organized that raid, and yes it was bad. But Orthodoxy had nothing to do with it. If you read what this faith preaches, it is love. Christ himself gives us the example, when the whole village comes out to stone a woman what does he say? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. What example did Jesus give? Yes, this woman broke the rules, she is a whore, but are you not a sinner? You lie, badmouth others, laze around, who amongst you is better? And we are fighting this organization? They don’t say anything else, we love you and come on, don’t make us be aggressive. I had a conversation with pastors and they told me that man, in our parish we have people who have homosexual tendencies, they have such feelings, these people go to church, some people think that they still want to go to church and need spiritual salvation, and they go and declare that they are like that and need spiritual help , the teacher provides this assistance. If it is such that it does not need it, it does not go. The majority of heterosexuals do not go there either. Whoever finds peace of mind goes there. To say that they hate such people is not true. I talked to these people. It seems more like this small group is showing hatred. I may not be loved by many in my district, even more so in Vake, or maybe even more than Vera, because I live in Nadzaladevi district. What should I do now, go out and write, “vakelebo fuck you, why don’t you love me?” It won’t be right. If, for example, I entered prisons and saw prisoners beaten and broken and bruised, if I saw a prisoner asking me what to do, I would say: if we appeal, that is, we resort to extreme measures and appeal, tomorrow and the day after I come, you can already, so to speak , I saw you taken to the morgue from here, right? Because they’re going to rip you off worse, so let’s think of something else, shall we? If you lose yourself in the struggle for the right, nothing will come of it. The main thing is not the rights, it is the person, first he is to be protected. That is, the struggle for expression, I do not understand this. The public defender should try to listen to many people, political groups, actors who are in the direction of rights protection and provide the received information to the state. Maximum communication with each other. Solving the problems will not happen by shaking hands, if we want to live with European values, why are we waiting to be accepted in the European Union, let’s start living with European values now. We need to share information, look out for each other, and we all need to take care of all the problems together. Now, unfortunately, I know a lot of cases locally, based on referrals, but if I become a public defender, I will have a lot more opportunities to get more information.
Sergo Makharadze: My preference is that if I am elected, I intend to communicate directly with people, listen to their hardships and make all decisions based on proper research and not, say, unilaterally or based on what I heard somewhere and so on. Only based on a proper investigation of the circumstances.
Maka Mindiashvili: The public defender is mainly focused on complaints, isn’t that right? If a complaint is failed they should take note of it. The problem lies within the group, social circle where the complaint came from, right? But the complaints won’t just come in, of course. For example, we can monitor the situation, have personal conversations about problems and those problems should be prevented, because it is impossible to solve something superficially.
Ketevan Chachava: If elected as public defender, I will try to contribute to the solution of social, economic and other types of problems faced by society and especially vulnerable groups by working closely with these groups, maximum involvement and constant feedback. As you know, the important functions of the public defender are advocacy and raising awareness on human rights issues, which is a very important prerequisite for solving the existing problems, since public consolidation will be necessary for this.
Giorgi Tsobekhiia: When we talk about the strengthening of rights and the role of the public defender in this process, we must consider the direction in which the public defender can be proactive and active in general within the framework of the three main powers. The first are constitutional lawsuits. In this direction, the current Public Defender’s administration was one of the best, because the most lawsuits have been sent to the Constitutional Court, that is, the authority of the Public Defender has been used, which is confirmed by the Law on Constitutional Proceedings and the Public Defender of Georgia. Second, we must talk about the anti-discrimination legislation, about the elimination of all forms of discrimination, the rights established by the Georgian legislation, according to which the public defender considers complaints and at the same time not only considers these complaints, but proactively has the right to respond to this issue if any case becomes known to him . And if, during the investigation of this case, criminal circumstances are identified, to refer to the relevant authorities and make a decision of a recommendatory nature. In this regard, the authority of the public defender is clearly spelled out in the law, and I would say that it is not so bad, the main thing is how it is performed. As for the third part, one of the most important rights of authority that the public defender has, not a right but an obligation on the one hand, is to submit their report to the Parliament of Georgia within the framework of their supervisory activities on human rights and to issue appropriate recommendations regarding relevant issues when they finds serious violations of human rights. However, we have a problem in the third part — one, as we can see according to the latest report, official statistics exist and are counted, only about 65% of the Public Defender’s recommendations are implemented. The problems in the direction of enforcement are serious, these problems also appear in the direction that the public defender tells us that there are gaps in the direction of human rights protection here and now, they have suggested to the government or the political leadership that we have a problem here and they recommend that it be corrected, that this change be implemented. This should be done, but due to the lack of political will, recommendations on some issues were not shared. The problem is that we are dealing with a recommendation, an indirect legal force. In this regard, what can we do? Naturally, we cannot give the Public Defender’s recommendation an imperative character, it cannot be like that, no Public Defender’s institution known to the world is organized like this. In such a situation, we have the only opportunity to present the role of the public defender in society in such a way that its importance increases so much that non-implementation of the recommendation means paying a certain political price for the members of the legislative body. It is necessary to integrate the institution more into the society, which will protect their interests. In my opinion, one thing that will help to increase the role of the public defender is that everyone will agree that submission of 500 and 1000-page reports, in which the recommendations are just a few sentences, may be relevant for a professionally interested person, but even the form of submission of these reports and recommendations is wrong. Therefore, it is necessary to think of some other format. As of now, the public defender is accountable to the parliament, which indirectly implies accountability to the people, because the composition of the parliament is also based on the people, but we need to create a kind of direct form of accountability to the people. For example, Poland has an interesting mechanism — the public defender appears on television once a quarter and presents a report on human rights to the people. We can, on the one hand, oblige the Public Broadcaster to cover the report of the Public Defender, and on the other hand, make a note in the Law on the Public Defender that they are obliged to submit a report to the country once a quarter, 4 times a year. This will create an opportunity to make information about the facts of human rights violations and the obligations of the public defender more clear to the people. At the same time, the recommendations will be understandable to everyone and the possibility of their implementation will increase. The Institute of the Public Defender is still in the process of development and it is necessary to expand its public influence. My goal is to present these initiatives that will strengthen the institution of the Public Defender. The commission gave me a rather low rating for political activities, which is funny to me, because the public defender has a lot of political influence and the political elements are clear.
Iago Khvichiya: The competence of the public defender is to intervene in the conflicts between state structures and people and control whether any agency violates human rights. In my opinion, clarifying conflicts between people is not the job of the public defender, there are other institutions that are responsible for that. The public defender may also check in some way, but not that the neighbors, some people quarreled and decide who it is right or false. First of all, I am going to say openly that I am a representative of the Parliament, I act on their behalf, including when I see clear violations of human rights. Our main area of interest is the type of relationship between the state and the human being that concerns the imprisonment of a person, incarceration and so on. I think that in this situation the relationship between the citizen and the state is the most clear. We will do our best to convince the public that we are dealing with rights violations, both on a practical and a normative level, mainly from law enforcement agencies and those agencies whose activities are related to the deprivation of human freedom. We will study all cases individually and make a decision.
Nazi Janezashvili: I think that we should somehow talk about the existing problems through a proper campaign, and not only organizations, in general, in order to increase public awareness, and I think that this will be one of the ways to protect human rights. As for the public defender, they must protect all groups that are particularly at risk. Although I always state that one of my priorities, based on my profession, is justice that applies to everyone, whether it is an LGBTQI person or anyone else who has a neighborhood dispute in court, the process is delayed and their rights are violated in this regard. I think that the public defender should not only react correctly and protect these values in the part of non-discrimination and support this policy, but I think that they should be able to work with everyone, with each person, so that the attitudes of the society regarding these issues are appropriate, rational, non-discriminatory . One of the important issues for me would be the rights of minorities, because the essence of this institution is that these issues should be given a lot of attention, and should be a priority, although, of course, not only that.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RIGHT TO ASSEMBLY, DEMONSTRATION AND EXPRESSION AND HOW SHOULD THE STATE ENSURE THAT THIS RIGHT IS EXERCISED?
Ana Abashidze: Based on the mandate, the first function of the public defender is to be very vigilant and observe the state of realization of human rights in Georgia and to observe the work of those agencies that are obliged to act to allow people to enjoy their rights in any situation. The supervisory part is one of the main things for the public defender, but the second is for the public defender to proactively meet people, professionals, representatives of different professions, communities and share their attitude, their concerns and help the society to gradually make the oppressive lifestyle a thing of the past. . As for the standard of human rights, without any buts and so on, every person has exactly the same right to self-expression – what they wear, how they look, what their identity is and so on, including whether they do it in public, gather with others, with banners, on which street they will be. , where it will be, this right applies to everyone equally and no prejudices, stereotypes, unacceptability of mass, etc. It is not a justification that anyone should cite when restricting human rights. Any office should be very clear and unambiguous about this.
Marika Arevadze: The right to express opinion and assembly is guaranteed by law, however, there is a problem in the direction of implementation, so it is most important to develop a state policy, which will then be implemented according to plan and every group will have an equal opportunity to enjoy the right granted to them.
Giorgi Burjanadze: The main role of the public defender is to remind any official that any peaceful gathering, whatever its content, is protected and naturally, every person should have the opportunity to express their opinion, go out on the street, expression should be protected. The role of the public defender is a reminder, to recall the example of last year, to conduct negotiations with certain groups and also, if someone violates, to demand responsibility. Remembering the terrible events of July 5, we demand that the organizers of the violent events be brought to justice, and we have appealed to the prosecutor’s office with a proposal to initiate criminal prosecution against two specific persons, against whom there is a standard in accordance with publicly distributed video recordings.
Lela Gafrindashvili: This is a very important right and there should not be any group in the state that is restricted from this right. The state must provide security in every possible way at the moment when any group enjoys this right.
Sofio Demetrashvili: I am not against the rally, or what right do I have to be against it. Of course, as it happens in all developed countries, I think there should not be a similar problem with us. Therefore, everyone is identical to me, regardless of any sign. Without a problem, that’s what I’m saying, my dear, without a problem, of course, everyone has freedom of expression, everyone has the right, let’s take the USA even, there the actions are completely open, completely public, one full day is devoted entirely, it’s a huge and beautiful event, you’ve probably seen it , I think everyone has seen it on TV. I have no objections, I am open to everyone.
Tinatin Arkvania: Very simple. A member of a sexual minority, like a member of any other social group, has the right to freedom of assembly and expression. I don’t see any problem at all with holding a demonstration in public to defend their rights. It is simply necessary to protect the demonstrators through a strong police cordon to prevent any excesses. At the same time, religious fundamentalists, who are in all countries and this is not only a Georgian problem, must somehow also be explained in legal language that they are violating the basic rights of others and that this is not at all compatible with Christianity. And at the same time, the government should deal strictly with all persons who will try to provoke violence against sexual minorities! I myself am Orthodox, and for me the oppression of sexual minorities is absolutely unacceptable, as well as violence “explained” by religion and religious fundamentalism. I have been interested in theology since childhood and there is no justification for oppression, persecution and violence anywhere, in any component. We must build a state where any citizen with a worldview can feel safe. To justify the oppression of sexual minorities with Christianity is anti-Christianity. I am writing an article on Christian social ethics these days and I want to emphasize that religious and political education and education in general are very lacking in Georgia.
Evgenia Tavadze: What should the state provide?! Free meetings in the minority of Eljibite (purposeful mispronunciation of the term LGBTQI) are already guaranteed. I’m saying that if an eljibite is restricted, let’s say, the right to work, there is oppression in the workplace, then I say that this person really needs to intervene and protect their rights. Other than that, I think Eljibit has no limitations. Passing freely, gathering and manifesting in some area, in an organized manner, does not harm anyone, and I think they are given this freedom.[After the journalist mentioned past experiences, including the events of July 5, and pointed out that public assembly and demonstration are protected by the constitution] Of course, the ombudsman should be careful, should not interfere harshly and should rely on the law, they should strictly abide it. On the other hand, individual oppression should be addressed, as should the violation of labor rights. what is happening? If individually this person has a right violation, this should be given special attention. On the other hand, they have this freedom if they can pass freely, gather, express their opinion. To ensure this right does not mean that the state must rally the demonstrators around it. I understand what you are saying, you want the state to collect the demonstrators, to ensure that the percentage of them actually increases. [The journalist clarifies that we are talking about the necessary protection levers and not about “gathering of demonstrators”] Is there some pedagogical group that spreads what I want to spread about you, on the other hand, they have freedom.
Aleksandre Kobaidze: Regarding the expression of free opinion, when the state listens to you illegally, and there are many proven cases that it listens to you, first of all, the state should take care that you, as a citizen, are not listened to. I think that illegal eavesdropping is directly related to human freedom, expression of opinion, because if the state does not listen to you, there will be more opportunities to express yourself. When a person has the feeling that the state is listening, he is no longer free whether he likes it or not. First of all, this problem should be solved. Regarding public gatherings, there are law enforcement agencies whose duty it is to ensure security, this is directly the prerogative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Levan Kokorashvili: Everyone’s freedom of assembly and expression is guaranteed by the constitution, which must be protected by the state. The rights and safety of all participants must be protected and everyone must be allowed to express themselves in a free environment and gather to express their opinion, of course.
Nugzar Kokhreidze: Regarding the right to public assembly and expression, the Public Defender should develop recommendations, should talk with all state agencies to carry out preliminary work, ensure processes to realize the right to expression of these people, including, communicating with relevant groups, people who prevent the right to self-expression. The constitution obliges the government to exercise the said right.
Giorgi Mariamidze: The exercise of any right should serve some purpose, if, for example, the assembly serves to protect the rights of this community, and this is the only way to protect the rights, yes, but are other means considered so that the assembly is not necessary. Since it causes excitement in society and many dangers are associated with this particular gathering, is it not advisable to find some other forms to protect the rights and why we resort to a radical form. I walk around in the community, people, and people’s argument is that there is a need to hold Pride, let’s find other means. Members of the community must agree on one thing, that I gather just to gather, because that is what I want if this gathering is to serve something. If I have a particular object, my rights are violated and I cannot defend it in any other way, yes sir, but let us first try other means and not sow a feud because some part of the community thinks that the community is celebrating a victory over something, another member of the community. I believe that no group of society has a moral right to celebrate any victory over society, so it will turn out that we will have a hostile society instead of a united one, which sooner or later will lead to violence. I, for example, unfortunately have never had contact with a representative of this community, I just wanted to talk if there is any other way to protect the rights. Both one side and the other have to give up something in order to live in society, a radical approach does not benefit anyone. Such thinking does not help either side, because if the other side thought so, we got what we got—hangings, beatings, and so on, for which a person is held accountable. Now imagine, as a public defender, on the one hand, I have to say that beating these people is bad, but on the other hand, I have to visit people in prison and take care of their rights. So if you are not defensive and neither are they, maybe we can sit down and talk, maybe there are other means.
Sergo Makharadze: The right to assembly and demonstration should be enjoyed by all people equally and, among them, it doesn’t matter what order a person belongs to or what social affiliation they belong to. All rights must be guaranteed equally.
Maka Mindiashvili: You mean the topic of Pride, right? [The journalist clarifies that it is not just about Pride, but the right to assembly and demonstration in general] My opinion and my view will be a little critical in this regard, I will tell you why. Now, I have a hearing tomorrow and the question will be whether a person owns his own body. [Author’s reference: Girchi members asked this question to the candidates for public defense during the parliamentary hearing] Of course, it belongs, but we have to take into account the public’s opinion, their approaches and views, in which society we live, right?! If, let’s say, the Elgebete (purposeful mispronunciation of the term LGBTQI) representative organizes Pride because they want to express it, as if they consider it their freedom, as if it is freedom and their attitude, then, come on, why are you violating my freedom? And suppose I believe that Elgebete is not a person of the right orientation, is that so? I think it’s the opposite, right? We have different attitudes and let’s not promote any attitude. We have our own life, and in this case pride is not needed for people of the right orientation, nor for people of no orientation. I personally do not welcome Pride.
Ketevan Chachava: The right of assembly and demonstration of all groups, as well as the freedom of expression, must be protected in a legal, human rights-based state. These are the rights protected by the Constitution of Georgia and various international acts. Unequivocally, ensuring the enjoyment of this right is a direct duty of the state. Specifically, the function of law enforcement agencies is to provide the safest possible environment for each citizen of Georgia to exercise these rights. It is also worth noting the role of the state in raising awareness – the state should actively work with society to dispel homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attitudes, which will also contribute to the prevention of violence.
Giorgi Tsobekhiia: The solution regarding the freedom of assembly and expression is the constitution. If we say that the supreme law is the constitution, we should be guided by the constitution so as not to single out people on this or that basis. In this direction, we do not have a problem with the record of the law, but there is a problem with the implementation of the law. Both the state and the public defender should be guided by the law and the constitution.
Iago Khvichiya: A person has the right to speak what he thinks is right. A person has the right to everything. I have always defended this right, from all positions, as I could, as a public defender, and I will try not to allow what I believe in practice – a violation by the state. As far as I know, I think that freedom of speech is still fairly protected at the legislative level, and I will try to make it less dangerous, because there are also discussions in the parliament about new laws restricting freedom of speech. I will try to resist it. I will protect all the rights that the state should insure, although priority will be given, of course, to much more painful topics, but if you ask me if I support the freedom of expression and assembly, of course I do, and I have used this right many times.
Nazi Janezashvili: I remember periods when gatherings were held, for example, in the presence of the police, silently, without the information of the general public, in order to avoid the dangers that we have already experienced in the past. This is not right, of course, because the right to free assembly and expression should be guaranteed to all citizens, but it needs to be worked on accordingly. This, in my opinion, is not a one-day act, it requires long-term, continuous work with the public, providing information, planning a campaign that will make the public more sensitive to the fact that people are actually in great danger. I think that any step that is taken by the public defender should be with broad involvement, in which the community will be involved first and the society as well, and in this way, it should be done with joint involvement. I may be painting in beautiful colors now, but it’s a long process, but step by step everything will be achievable.
In addition, we asked the candidates for public defender, in their opinion, how effective is the investigation of crimes motivated by hate and what gaps exist in this direction.
Ana Abashidze noted that the public defender and any person whose duty it is, should first of all work to reduce the level of hatred among people to a minimum. Also, specific cases of hate-motivated crimes should be studied and the perpetrators should be punished accordingly.
According to Marika Arevadze, she has not worked on these topics in depth and it will be difficult to present the details, however, in case of becoming a public defender, she will study all components in this direction. Lela Gaprindashvili made a similar comment and noted that it would be important for her to “talk to people with higher competence and share their information”.
Giorgi Burjanadze said that “there should be a specialized investigative body that will be responsible for the investigation of similar category of cases”. According to him, there is a department in the Ministry of Internal Affairs that monitors the investigation of similar cases, but it is important to have a specialized unit.
Sofio Demetrashvili noted that “the main problem, from which all other problems originate, is education, awareness. In my subjective opinion, education of children in this direction should start from school age.”
Tinatin Erkvania considers strengthening the direction of criminal law as a way to reduce crimes motivated by hate.
In response to the question, Evgenia Tavadze said that the crimes cannot be properly investigated if the victim cannot formulate and analyze what they have to say to the end, and “a person needs effort”.
According to Aleksandre Kobaidze, “the investigation is biased, that is, someone is punished by the law, someone is not”, which should not be the case, because this is how crime is encouraged.
According to Levan Kokorashvili, there are cases of delays in the investigation, and if he becomes the public defender, he is going to actively monitor in this direction. A similar comment was made by Nugzar Kokhreidze, who, based on the Public Defender’s report, states that when it comes to ethnic and religious minorities, investigative agencies practically do not investigate such cases. In his opinion, “this needs to be refined and improved, informational and educational training should be carried out in the investigative system itself, so that they can identify distinguishing marks”.
Giorgi Mariamidze states that the motive of violence is less important and the motive does not have much weight in criminal law: “I didn’t like the person’s dress, I didn’t like the lipstick, the hair color, what does it matter if a man comes in a dress and he is an exaggerated threat, with high heels He wears shoes or something, he has a different kind of touch, not characteristic of a man, and so on, and because of that someone attacks him, these specific cases are unknown to me.”
Like Giorgi Mariamidze, Iago Khvichia also ignored the motive and declared that “the dead motivated by hatred and the dead motivated by love are both dead and both are murders. And I don’t understand the logic that we should consider these two differently”.
Sergo Makharadze told us that it would be difficult to give an answer without a proper investigation, and Giorgi Tsobekhia once again pointed out that it is necessary to effectively use the mandate of the Public Defender.
After asking the question, Maka Mindiashvili started talking about the hatred in the society in general: “So we are talking about any crime?” [The journalist specifies that it is about the motive of hatred] Hate. Hmmm… yeah, there was a lot of hate today. Recently, especially people hate each other, I don’t know why this happened, what caused it, I don’t know if we have mental problems or what”, – the journalist explained to the candidate what the motive of hatred means, after which Mindiashvili voiced homophobic comments – “monitoring will definitely be carried out in this regard, Training will be conducted in schools in particular. We cannot even hate such people, and on the contrary, we should stand by them, maybe what caused him to act like that, right? That is, let’s say that such a lifestyle was caused by some factors, and we can support such people, that’s my opinion.”
Ketevan Chachava noted that the investigation of crimes motivated by hate is a challenge and it is necessary to “see effective justice for the acts of violence committed so far”. She cited the events of July 5 as an example and said that the organizers should be punished.
According to Nazi Janezashvili, one of the problems in relation to crimes motivated by hate is the unprofessionalism of judges, and it is necessary to train people employed in courts and law enforcement agencies.