On 24 January 2017, the Council of Europe organised the closing conference for the Project “Improving the operational capacities of the Public Defender's Office in Georgia” funded by the Human Right Trust Fund (HRTF).
The purpose of the conference was to sum up the project’s achievements, discuss lessons learned and ensure follow up actions. The conference brought together representatives of Public Defender’s Office (PDO), Judiciary, international organizations and leading non-governmental organizations. Mr. Cristian Urse, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia and Mr. Ucha Nanuashvili, Ombudsperson of Georgia addressed the audience at the opening session.
From 2015 the project supported PDO to reinforce the impact of the Public Defender's Office's actions relating to the fight against intolerance, the protection of vulnerable persons, the protection of social rights and the fight against ill-treatment in Tbilisi and the regions.
The project originated from the action plan for Georgia 2013-2015 and was build upon results of previous projects by Council of Europe in this area, where from 2011 to 2013 the Council of Europe helped the PDO maintain its “A” rating and contributed to building up its role as a National Preventive Mechanism under OPCAT.
The conference provided opportunity to discuss results achieved within the course of implementation of the project as well as follow-up actions. The participants highly acknowledged contribution of the project to the further strengthening of legislative framework of PDO’s operations in line with the international standards which frame and guide the work of National Human Rights Institutions. Increased capacity of regional and central staff of PDO dealing with individual complaints in line with best European practices allowing to identify hidden case of intolerance, violation of the rights of vulnerable persons or ill-treatment. Significant success was made towards advancing PDO’s capacity in the submission of amicus curiae to the Constitutional Court and common courts resulting in increased number of amicus curiae prepared and submitted by the PDO.
More over participants underlined the role of the project enhancing the capacity of Human Rights Academy of PDO to raise public awareness on issues of protection of human rights and freedoms, tolerance and equality as well as development of literacy aspects for participatory democratic citizenship.
All parties agreed that project led to very positive and concrete results, such as reviewed draft amendments to the Organic Law on the PDO in line with the international standards which frame and guide the work of National Human Rights Institutions; full and comprehensive needs assessment study of the PDO that provided detailed information on the current situation, the needs and expectations of the beneficiary and laid the basis for the further strategic planning and fund-raising by the Ombudsperson; developed formal procedure for identifying, preparing and approving amicus curiae; signed memorandum of cooperation between the PDO and the Supreme Court of Georgia providing good initial framework and demonstrating the readiness of the Parties to develop and advance the role of amicus curiae, in order to contribute towards developing human rights focused case law before Georgian courts; Modal curriculum for Human Rights Academy of PDO exploring the fundamentals of human rights, equality and anti-discrimination as the pre-requisite of social welfare, peace and democratic development of the society.