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Amnesty International’s report on human rights record in Georgia

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, May 16
Human Rights organization, Amnesty International has issued its annual human rights report. Among other states, it outlines the situation in Georgia. The document says the main concern of the human rights groups refer to the lack of progress of investigations into crimes against international law during and after the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008. According to the authors of the report, last September the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner reported about “serious shortcomings by all sides in the process of clarifying the fate of people missing since the war. The report also criticized the Georgian authorities’ apparent failure to effectively investigate the fate of three Ossetian men who allegedly disappeared in Georgian-controlled territory in October 2008,” Amnesty’s report reads.

The authors reported about the incident connected with a journalist and civil activist Timur Tskhovrebov, who was attacked in Tskhinvali by a group of people and beaten up. The report says, four days ago the de facto South Ossetian high-rank official, Boris Chochiev had condemned Tskhovrebov’s participation in a Georgian-Ossetian Civil Forum held in the Netherlands. The authors of the report claim the incident has not been “properly investigated” so far. Regarding Georgia’s other breakaway region of Abkhazia; the report says that “civilians also continued to suffer from harassment and insecurity in the Gali region of Abkhazia where shoot-outs, killings and acts of arson were reported in June.”

The authors of the report state that the Georgian government took steps to improve the living conditions of IDPs “for example by renovating some of the poorest accommodations and transferring ownership to the displaced people.” However, the document says that the renewed collective centres and new settlements “did not meet international standards of adequate housing due to insufficient access to water, sanitation and other essential services.” Amnesty International claims that the integration of the IDPs “remained slow and many continue to face obstacles in accessing employment, health care and social security.” The report touches upon the issue of IDPs evictions. “The evictions breached international standards and in several instances the authorities failed to provide people with any alternative shelter or compensation,” the report reads.

According to the authors of the document, in September the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture reported “some progress” in preventing ill-treatment of people by police during pre-trial detention, but “concerns remained regarding ill-treatment on arrest and police stations.” The report touches upon the new stop-and-search law. “Several human rights organizations expressed concerns as the law failed to specify either the exact circumstances in which the police could use these powers, or the length of the time a person could be held under them,” the document says. Amnesty International has criticized the Georgian authorities for “failing to effectively investigate” the reported incidences of harassment, intimidation and beating of protesters by police and unknown masked men during the protest rallies between April and July 2009, as well as “failure” to bring to justice police officers, who had reportedly “recklessly fired” impact projectiles at demonstrators on May 2009.

As for the state of women and girls rights in the country, the Amnesty report says the first state-funded shelters for the domestic violence victims were opened in Tbilisi and Gori and in March 2010 the Parliament adopted the Law on Gender equality to “address discrimination in employment, education, health and social services and family relations.”