Various

Does Concordat Restrict Public Defender’s Right to Enter Ninotsminda Orphanage?

2 June, 2021

On May 22, TV “Alt-info”, associated with Levan Vasadze’s political movement “Unity, Essence, Hope – Nation”, aired an interview of Dimitri Lortkipanidze, head of the Primakov Georgian-Russian Public Center. Lortkipanidze speaks about Public Defender’s request to enter Ninotsminda Orphanage and claims that concordat grants the church the right to bar Public Defender from entering the orphanage.

 

 Dimitri Lortkipanidze, Primakov Georgian-Russian Public Center:  “On one hand, Public Defender is a constitutional institution, whose authority is regulated by legislation and has the right to enter, revise and examine minors under the state-owned public establishments on the basis of the specific appeal. Thus, the apparatus of public defender does have a right to monitor and investigate children's rights under the public establishment, however, on the other hand, there’s a conflict of laws on the basis of a constitutional agreement made between the church and the state in October 2002… The church's independence from the state implies that the church has a right to evade this type of institutional intervention from such constitutional agency as Public Defender, which, i.a., by protecting LGBT rights, practically legalizes the propaganda of this immorality. Public Defender’s Institute is apologist, which encourages, supports and glorifies [immorality] and that’s why the church doesn’t allow the latter to visit children.”

Lortkipanidze’s statement alleging that concordat grants the church the discretion to not allow Public Defender to enter church-owned orphanages is manipulative and false. There is no Article in Concordat respective to this claim. Moreover, Ninotsminda Orphanage is registered as a non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entity; Public Defender has a right to monitor this type of establishments under the Organic Law on the Public Defender and the Code on the Rights of the Child.

In the Constitutional Agreement between „the State and the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia“, approved by the Parliament on October 22, 2002, Article 4 (3) is about social security programs. According to the aforesaid norm, the state and the church are empowered to implement joint social security programs. Concordat doesn’t mention that the church has a right to evade interference from the constitutional agency, as claimed by Lortkipanidze

According to Article 83 (2) of the Code on the Rights of the Child, protection of child’s rights and freedoms on the territory of Georgia are monitored and assessed by:

  • Parliament of Georgia
  • Respective interagency cooperation commissions set up by the Georgian government
  • Municipalities
  • Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia
  • Local and International NGOs

According to Article 97 (4) of the aforesaid Code, Public Defender conducts ex officio or appeal-based control of the aforesaid Code implementation by the state governmental agencies and municipalities, as well as public and private legal entities.

According to the Concordat, the church is a public legal entity, which conducts activities in accordance with the ecclesiastical (Canon) laws, the constitution of Georgia, the above-mentioned agreement, and Georgian legislation. Furthermore, Georgian Patriarchate-owned Javakheti, Ninotsminda St. Nino Orphanage for Orphans, Waifs and Children in Need of Care is registered as non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entity, which implies the private legal entity status and therefore, it is among the establishments determined by Article 97 of the Code on the Rights of the Child.

According to Article 70 of the Code on the Rights of the Child, the Public Defender of Georgia conducts information-educational activities on the rights and freedoms of the child, particularly a child under a social risk, in accordance with the “Organic Law on the Public Defender”.

According to Article 19 (1) of the Organic Law on the Public Defender, the Public Defender or a member of the Special Preventive Group examines the situation with respect to human rights and freedoms in penitentiary establishments, as well as psychiatric facilities, nursing and children's homes. Per Article 19 (2), to conduct regular inspections of the behavior, as well as to protect individuals from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in the above-mentioned establishments including children's homes, the Public Defender of Georgia or a member of the Special Preventive Group meet with individuals residing in the aforesaid establishments, as well as with people who may provide information about violations of the rights of those individuals and those meetings are confidential.

According to Article 191 (1), in order to implement the National Preventive Mechanism, the Special Preventive Group is set up under the auspices of the Public Defender of Georgia, which regularly monitors the condition and treatment of detainees and prisoners or people whose liberty is otherwise restricted, convicted individuals, as well as people in psychiatric facilities, nursing and children's homes to protect them from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Disinformation about Public Defender’s request to enter Ninotsminda Orphanage has been spread before. Representatives of “Society for Protecting Children’s rights” Guram Palavandishvili and Aleksandre Palavandishvili have claimed that the goal of the Public Defender for entering Ninotsminda Orphanage is to deprave minors. The Public Defender’s apparatus states that in reality, the monitoring carried out at the St. Nino Orphanage in Ninotsminda revealed serious cases of violence against children and punishment of children.

Read more on the topic in the article prepared by „Myth Detector”:
Why does the Public Defender request to enter Ninotsminda children’s home?

 


By Keti Khutsishvili


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