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Civil sector opposes draft law on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, April 17
The Legal Committee of the Georgian Parliament discussed the draft law On the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.

Any form of discrimination is already banned by the Georgian constitution and the main request of the Georgian civil sector was to draft a law which would ensure implementation of effective anti-discrimination mechanisms.

The original version of the law, drafted by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the civil sector, considered establishing a new institute of equality inspectors and also fine sanctions. However, these mechanisms do not appear on the final draft presented to the parliament.

According to the Prime Ministerís office, Georgia is not ready for new anti-discrimination mechanisms to be established. The PMís adviser on Human Rights, Tamar Chugoshvili told Netgazeti that it will be hard to establish an institute of equality inspectors and direct fines for violations.

ďThe country is not yet ready to establish direct fines, at the moment it is optimal to deal with the cases via recommendations or court sessions.Ē Chugoshvili said.

The law does not aim to set any new right, but instead its goal is to ensure the right to non-discrimination is equally enjoyable for everyone. Also, the law says it is the Public Defenderís competence to supervise the prohibition of discrimination in Georgia.

The Public Defenderís office has already expressed the ombudsmanís full readiness to carry out a supervisory function on the issues concerning the elimination of discrimination and securing equality.

Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili says the draft offers a different approach and forms of authority, making the supervisory competence of the Public Defender more effective. However, Nanuashvili and his office have number of recommendations for the government.

The Draft Law provides amendments in the Criminal Code of Georgia, but it does not provide for amendments to the Administrative Code, where the authority of the Public Defender to apply to the court would be spelled out in details. Also, Nanaushvili would like to ensure via the new draft the right of the ombudsman to request documents related to the case under review from private persons.

According to the proposed Draft Law, the Public Defender is authorized to apply to the court only in case if the alleged discriminatory act has been committed by an ďadministrative bodyĒ. For the efficiency of the fight against discrimination, the Public Defender considers that the scope of his authority should be extended to the alleged violations committed by private persons.

Nanuashvili believes it is important to offer court fee exemption to the victims of discrimination when applying to the court for establishing discrimination and/or determining the responsibility of those who allegedly committed discrimination.

Nanuashvili is going to further review of the draft and will send additional recommendations to the parliament.

Many Georgian NGOs strictly oppose the draft. The civil sector released a special statement where they requested the original version of the draft to be presented to the parliament. NGOs say the draft was approved by the international organizations and it offers effective mechanisms against discrimination, whilst the draft law presented to the parliament is a big step-back in human rights protection.