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Ombudsman Proposes Property Arbitration Commission
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 13 Mar.'08 / 13:58

Public Defender Sozar Subari has submitted to Parliament for consideration a draft law envisaging setting up an independent commission to probe into private property disputes between the state and owners.

The proposed commission would not only consider possible future disputes, but also previous ones over the past five years – something bound to be opposed by the ruling majority in Parliament.

“Naturally, the draft law also applies to illegal actions committed [against property owners] in previous years,” Subari said in a written statement on March 13. “Otherwise, its adoption would make no sense.”

The draft law reads that the seven-member commission, to be chaired by the public defender, “will be an independent body subordinate to no state structure.”

Three members of the commission, according to the draft law, will be nominated by Parliament and three – by the public defender. Parliament must approve all six for a four-year term.

“If there really is the political will in the legislative body to have property rights genuinely protected, Parliament will discuss and approve this draft law as soon as possible,” the public defender said.

The initiative comes after Subari met President Saakashvili on January 31. Afterwards Saakashvili said that it had been agreed to set up a special commission to arbitrate on property disputes. It emerged later, however, that the authorities were against granting the proposed commission retroactive powers.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Nika Gvaramia said on March 12 that a constitutional amendment had been drafted aimed at strengthening property rights. He said its final approval would mean that no state agency would be able to confiscate private property without a court ruling.

The public defender's draft law envisages that a disputed case would only go to court if it had already been through the special commission.

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