Public Defender’s Statement on International Human Rights Defenders Day

December 9 marks International Human Rights Defenders Day. The Public Defender’s Office traditionally joins the celebration of this day and once again emphasizes the special role of human rights defenders in a democratic society in terms of protection of human rights, promotion of the rule of law, equality and government accountability.

The monitoring carried out by the Public Defender over the years has highlighted a number of obstacles hampering the activities of human rights defenders. Among them, the discrediting statements of the civil sector by high political officials have been constantly problematic, to which, for years, the Public Defender has been responding with public statements and parliamentary reports.[1] This year, the initiative of introduction of additional regulations for the finances of non-governmental organizations was particularly noteworthy,[2] which may create a threat of narrowing the free space for the activities of human rights defenders in the future. The Public Defender has repeatedly criticized similar initiatives against the guarantees provided at the international level to ensure the protection of human rights defenders.[3]

The Public Defender’s Office considers that, taking into account the standards established by the UN, Council of Europe and OSCE/ODIHR,[4] it is of the utmost importance that the officials, during the exercise of their powers granted by law, refrain from engaging in campaigns against human rights defenders and interfereing with the implementation of their activities through legislative changes or by denying them access to specific events. In addition, the relevant authorities should respond in a timely and effective manner to any violent incident against human rights defenders, an example of which was alleged retribution against civil activist Nata Peradze in 2022, in order to prevent similar rights violations in the future.

We would also like to remind the public that since 2018 an independent chapter has been devoted in the Public Defender’s parliamentary report to the challenges encountered by human rights defenders. Taking into account the problems existing at the national level, in 2020, the Office developed a manual on issues relating to human rights defenders, which aims to promote the protection of the rights of human rights defenders.

The Public Defender’s Office actively cooperates with international and local human rights organizations to support the activities of human rights defenders. In addition, the Public Defender, as the only European national human rights institution, was involved by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and a group of experts, in the process of developing an international tool for monitoring the situation of human rights defenders.

[1] 2021 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender, p. 194, 2020 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender, p. 257, 2019 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender, p. 250, 2018 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender, p. 167.

[2] Information is available on the website: < > [08.12.2022].

[3] 2020 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender of Georgia, 257-260; 2019 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender of Georgia, 250-254; 2018 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender of Georgia, 165-168; See also, the statements of the Public Defender of Georgia, available on the website: << > ; < > ; < > ; < > ; < >, < >, < > [08.12.2022]

[4] See the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 2225 (2018) on ProtectingHuman Rights Defenders in Council of Europe Member States, OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, OSCE/ODIHR Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Selected OSCE Participating States (including Georgia).

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