Question about the meeting
Ambassador Degnan: I had a very interesting meeting with Speaker Shalva Papuashvili. I really appreciate him taking the time. We discussed a number of different topics, including his recent trip to NATO and his meetings with the Georgia-NATO Commission. We also discussed, of course, the appointment process for the heads of the new State Inspection Service and the Data Protection Agency. We encouraged the Speaker to make this a deliberative process: take the time that is provided under the law to really find the best candidates for these very important positions. Both positions are responsible for ensuring that Georgian citizens’ human rights are protected. We all know how much of our information is now online, and data protection has become even more important than before. The State Inspection Service is responsible for making sure that citizens’ human rights are protected. They need to be independent. They need to be very well qualified heads of these agencies. We hope that this will not be a rushed process. We also hope that the case that is before the Constitutional Court regarding the dismissal of the current State Inspector will be allowed to conclude before new appointments are made. The current State Inspector still has three years left on her legally mandated six year term. There were no complaints about her performance or those of her deputies over the last three years in Parliament or anywhere else. So again, it’s very important that the Constitutional Court have a chance to conclude the case before new candidates are selected for these very important positions.
Question on a Parliamentary investigative committee
Ambassador Degnan: It’s really not for me to decide whether there should be an investigative committee or not. I believe under the rules of procedure, those are authorized and if there’s enough support for it, then it goes forward. But that is really for the Members of Parliament to determine.
Question on Mr. Saakashvili’s challenge to his sentences
Ambassador Degnan: It’s not for me to weigh in on the merits of a judicial case. Mr. Saakashvili has challenged the sentences against him in the European Court of Human Rights. That is being deliberated, and that is the proper approach for challenging his imprisonment, but in terms of rule of law and upholding rule of law, our concern is making sure that Mr Saakashvili’s human rights are respected, that he’s treated with dignity, that he receives the medical care that he needs, and he receives a fair trial, and we will continue to urge the authorities to respect his human rights. Thank you.