Sukhum. On November 1, 2018 Abkhazia-Inform. Ombudsman’s office was offi-cially opened in Sukhum. It is located in the National Library building at Lakoba street, 111.
1 November 2018

Sukhum. On November 1, 2018 Abkhazia-Inform. Ombudsman’s office was offi-cially opened in Sukhum. It is located in the National Library building at Lakoba street, 111.

The head of the office – Asida Shakryl, elected by the Parliament in May 2018. The cabinet consists of 5 internal employees.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Speaker of the Parliament Valery Kvarchia, judges of the Constitutional Court, members of Parliament, law enforcement officers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of both the civil sector and international organizations working in Abkhazia.

On February 24, 2016, the law "On the Ombudsman in the Republic of Abkhazia" was passed. The first Ombudsman (a lawyer Dmitry Marshania) was appointed in November 2016. (The Commissioner is elected by the Parliament of the Republic with a majority vote of all deputies in a secret ballot). Immediately after the election, the Ombudsman intended to proceed with the formation of the cabinet and execution of his direct responsibilities. However, the funds of the republic for 2017 were insufficient to allow these actions.

Prior to the enactment of the law on the Ombudsman, there was a position of the Public Defender under the President of the Republic. The post was held by Dr. of Historical Sciences Georgy Otyrba from March 2007.

"The opening of the Ombudsman’s office is an important event in the life of our young state. I wish all the best to the staff and I hope that their work will be successful,”– congratulated the speaker of the Parliament Valery Kvarchia. We face many ongoing challenges. You have an intense workload ahead of you. And here you will need real support from both the authorities and the civil sector. It will be necessary to establish a constructive dialogue between these two structures”, –mentioned the secretary of the Public Chamber Natella Akaba.

She then mentioned the first president Vladislav Ardzinba, who placed a high value on human rights issues. On his initiative, the Human Rights Committee was established under the first convocation of Parliament (1991-1996). The Chairman of the Commission was Yuri Nikolayevich Voronov. After Voronov’s appointment, the position of Vice-Prime Minister Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for Human Rights was delegated to Natella Akaba.

“It's a pity that current convocation of Parliament does not include Human Rights Committee," N. Akaba noted

George Otyrba stressed the importance of cooperation with international organizations in the field of human rights.

Journalist Nadezhda Venediktova suggested the establishment of a Public Council of the Human Rights Office, which would include judges of the Constitutional Court, the Prosecutor's Office, and journalists. "We need to build a link between the Ombudsman's institute and society”, – she stated.

Archimandrite Dorofey Dbar also noted the important role of the institution. "We do not intend to reconstruct the Principality of Abkhazia nor its kingdom. We build a democratic, lawful State, where one of the key authorities is the Ombudsman. Justice is not possible without compliance with laws, without adhering to the principle of equality before the law. The lawfulness, openness, transparency are crucial elements in state-building, as well as in building the path for our international recognition ... We should not tolerate crimes under the guise of tradition, such as revenge killings”. 

"The formation of the Ombudsman’s cabinet is an important event for our Republic. The future of this institution depends on how well you will be able to ensure the real protection of human rights in Abkhazia, how efficiently you will work”, – stated the employee of the center of humanitarian programs Liana Kvarchelia. She recalled a study conducted by the CHP on how human rights practices are being perceived in Abkhazia.

"This study indicated that there is a significant gap between the principles and values reflected in our Constitution and what we have in real life, how people identify themselves, view their rights, and law enforcement agencies. Many perceive view law enforcement agencies as repressive structures. When the principles of equality before the law are not being safeguarded, when people have to reach out to their relations or pay money, then those who do not have these means feel disadvantaged, discriminated”.

Liana Kvarchelia places a high value on the outreach activities, such as public education seminars and special events.

The executive director of the CHP Arda Inal-Ipa drew attention to the fact that citizens often perceive human rights issues as irrelevant, imposed from the outside. "This is not by chance. Due to a number of political circumstances, and in view of our non-recognition, for almost 20 years our citizens had to face the fact that the international community paid attention mostly to refugee protection, safeguarding the rights of Georgian citizens. This implied a significant imbalance. People regarded all the international culture and ideology as futile for Abkhazian society. But despite the unfair attitudes of the international community, human rights issues in the Republic are being addressed. The Abkhazian political elite as well as the state committed itself to enact relevant legislation and establish the Ombudsman's institution. All this suggests that we have an internal need to build a modern nation-state where everyone would be protected”.

The judge of the Constitutional Court Lyudmila Khodjashvili wished success to the newly established office and promised constructive cooperation.

"Regardless of whether the international community recognizes us or not, protection of human rights is our key national task. Compliance with human rights is one of the constituents of state stability. If broad international recognition is what we want, we must protect and guarantee human rights, the rights of our citizens”. – stated Shakryl.

She thanked all those who came to the presentation and expressed hope for fruitful cooperation with the authorities and civil society.

Following the law, the key objectives of the Ombudsman are:

1) to protect the people against violation of rights, as well as assist in the restoration of violated human and civil rights and freedoms on the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia;

2) assist in bringing the legislation of the Republic of Abkhazia in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia;

3) assist in promoting legal education, human and civil rights education.

4) implement measures aimed at preventing and eliminating various forms of discrimination against a person;

5) support Non-Profit Human Rights Organisations in the Republic of Abkhazia;

6) enhance international cooperation in the field of human rights.

The Ombudsman investigates complaints from citizens of the Republic of Abkhazia as well as foreign citizens and stateless persons within the territory of the Republic.

In accordance with the law, the Ombudsman examines complaints on actions or omissions by public authorities.

It’s within Ombudsman’s competence to address recommendations to the appropriate bodies with a view to correct illegal or unfair acts of public authorities or to improve their services and the administrative procedures followed by those services. The officials who receive the Ombudsman's statement, should review it within 10 days and report the results back to the Ombudsman.

If the officials do not promptly report on the measures taken, the Ombudsman has the right to apply to the Prosecutor's Office, the Court, or other public bodies concerned.

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