A commission to be chaired by Public Defender Sozar Subari will be set up to arbitrate on property disputes between private owners and the state, President Saakashvili said on January 31.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Subari and newly appointed General Prosecutor Eka Tkeshelashvili, who will also join the commission, Saakashvili said that the opposition could have representation in the commission.
“We should set up a new commission with binding decisions on property [disputes],” Saakashvili said. “It means that if the prosecutor’s office or any other state agency seizes property, a commission will be set up independently, which will be led by the public defender - we will specially adopt a relevant law - and which will include civil society and political - including opposition - representatives. And these people will make a final decision.”
The commission, however, will not have jurisdiction over past property disputes, which have caused much concern about the sanctity of private property. Last November, Parliament adopted a resolution suspending about 95% of legal property disputes between the state and individuals or firms. The measure applied to property privatized before April 2007.
“It is very important to address perceived abuses of property rights in Georgia. Otherwise, the further development of the country is absolutely impossible,” Public Defender Sozar Subari said. “Therefore, it is a very important to set up such a commission so that each citizen of Georgia feels that his property is protected.”
President Saakashvili said the new commission signaled a new era in which the Public Defender’s Office and the General Prosecutor’s Office would work hand in hand.
“In the past these two bodies viewed each other with suspicion; this practice should now end,” Saakashvili said. “From now on there should be a strong relationship between the prosecutor and defender and both of them should be defenders.”