The US Embassy criticizes the abolition of State Inspector Office
The US Embassy in Tbilisi criticized the abolition of the State Inspector’s service by the Georgian Dream On January 3, 2022. The statement said that at the end of the year, the Georgian Dream undermined the principle of government accountability by hastily abolishing the State Inspector’s Office.
At the same time, according to the embassy, the ruling party damaged the court, on the one hand, by amending the Law on Common Courts and, on the other hand, by appointing another Supreme Court judge, Amiran Dzabunidze, following a “flawed selection process..”
According to the US Embassy, the ruling party has voluntarily or unintentionally indicated in these decisions that it will retaliate against independent oversight of government activities or dissent by punishment or dismissal. “Of particular concern is the lack of transparent consideration and analysis of these legislative changes,” the US embassy said, adding that the ruling team did not provide credible arguments as to why the changes needed to be made so “hastily, without proper consultation.”
“Strong democratic institutions and commitment to the rule of law are the best way to protect Georgia from Russian aggression,” the embassy said, adding that steps to weaken democratic institutions undermine Georgia’s aspirations to join NATO and the European Union.
Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Georgian Dream, said the US embassy’s statement was “incorrect ” and contained “factual and human errors.” The chairman of the ruling party said that “Georgian Dream” often took the advice of international partners, but there are “exceptional cases when we hear unfair and incorrect assessments from them and this is another example of this.”
On January 5, NGOs called on President Salome Zurabishvili to veto an expedited bill by the ruling party to abolish the State Inspector’s Office.
Georgian Dream lawmakers On December 30 backed the abolition of an independent investigative body responsible for overseeing the legality of personal data processing and law enforcement investigations by law enforcement agencies.
The Inspector’s Office will cease to function in March 2022 and State Inspector Londa Toloraia and her deputies will be left without a job. In place of the Inspector’s Service, two new bodies will be set up – the Special Investigation Service and the Personal Data Protection Service.
The ruling party’s initiative was announced in the media a few days before its abolition, on December 24. Londa Toloraia said that the ruling party “punished” her agency for its independence, conscientiousness, obedience to the law and decisions in various cases. Furthermore, the State Inspector’s Office found the Ministry of Justice and the Special Penitentiary Service guilty of violating the Personal Data Protection Law by releasing video footage of former President Mikheil Saakashvili.
US Deputy Secretary of State spoke to Minister of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia David Zalkaliani held a telephone conversation on January 5. The sides discussed the security environment in the region and Russia’s aggression against Georgia and Ukraine.
The talks came ahead of several international meetings scheduled for January, where one of the key issues will be Russia’s strengthening of military positions inside and around Ukraine. These meetings include an extraordinary meeting of NATO foreign ministers, a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, and bilateral US-Russian talks in Geneva.
The Deputy Secretary of State wrote on Twitter that in a conversation with a Georgian diplomat, he reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
UNESCO has included Lekso Lashkarava in the list of killed journalists
UNESCO has updated the list of journalists killed worldwide. According to the list, a total of 55 journalists were killed in 2021, one of them being the operator of the TV Pirveli, Lekso Lashkarava. The date of Lekso Lashkarava’s murder is indicated in the UNESCO list as of July 5, 2021.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has not made a statement about the investigation into the death of Lekso Lashkarava since July 2021. At post-mortem briefings, the agency hinted at the deceased’s drug use.
It was also reported that Lashkarava had been prescribed strong painkillers on July 5 due to severe injuries sustained in an attack on journalists by violent groups. Until December 2021, the Bureau of Expertise had not prepared a report on whether the cause of Lekso Lashkarava’s death was an overdose of drugs.