Freedom house criticizes former Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili
21 February, 2019
The ability of elected officials to determine and implement government policy is impaired by the informal role of Ivanishvili, who holds no public office but exerts significant influence over executive and legislative decision-making - reads the Freedom House report on Georgia.

According to the report, Ivanishvili’s de facto authority was demonstrated in June 2018, when Prime Minister Kvirikashvili resigned due to disagreements with Ivanishvili over economic policy.

“Ivanishvili’s policy influence is also visible in connection with his financial
and business interests, and in particular the multibillion-dollar Georgian Co-Investment Fund (GCF), which was unveiled in 2013 and is active in large real-estate development projects in Tbilisi. In 2017, observers raised suspicions that a major development project opposed by many civil society actors but backed by GCF was receiving favorable treatment from the authorities in large part due to Ivanishvili’s political connections”, reads the report.
Bidzina Ivanishvili, former Georgian PM

Freedom House executive and legislative interference in the courts remains a substantial problem in Georgia

Despite ongoing judicial reforms, executive and legislative interference in the courts remains a substantial problem, as does corruption and a lack of transparency and professionalism surrounding judicial proceedings, - reads the Freedom House report on Georgia.

“In August 2018, Nino Gvenetadze resigned as head of the Supreme Court, ostensibly for health reasons. However, many observers suggested that she was pressured to resign. Under a new constitutional framework that took effect after the 2018 presidential election, Supreme Court judges are nominated by the High Council of Justice rather than the president, then approved by Parliament. A judicial self-governing body elects a majority of the council’s members. In December, the council presented a list of Supreme Court nominees, but a coalition of NGOs argued that it had used an opaque process and selected judges with tainted reputations. The coalition called on Parliament to adopt more robust qualification rules and transparent procedures for selecting Supreme Court judges before it considered any nominees from the council”, reads the report.

According to the organization, the office of the country’s public defender, or ombudsperson, has reported problems including a failure to fully implement Constitutional Court rulings, administrative delays in court proceedings, the violation of the accused’s right to a presumption of innocence, and the denial of access to a lawyer upon arrest.
Poster of Bidzina Ivanishvili says that social welfare of pensioners and IDPs should be overseen and it is a matter of his dignity

In addition, according to the report, human rights watchdogs and the ombudsperson continue to express concern about the physical abuse of detainees during arrest and in police custody, and have noted the lack of an independent system for supervising police conduct and addressing claims of mistreatment. In July 2018, Parliament approved legislation to establish a new state inspector’s office tasked with investigating police abuses, but it would not be independent from the prosecutor’s office, a shortcoming that drew criticism from human rights groups. Violence and harsh conditions in prisons remain a problem.

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