Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on May 21, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay touched upon issues related to human rights, stating that Georgia has done much for creating a better environment. However, she admitted, there are still many painful areas, unresolved problems and controversies. She stressed that more attention needs to be paid to the situation of human rights in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
South Ossetia becomes inaccessible place - says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, May 23
“Whereas some movement is allowed in and out of Abkhazia, especially to the Gali region, both for displaced persons, returnees and for some UN agencies and other actors, South Ossetia has become one of the most inaccessible places on Earth, with no access permitted for international agencies, except the ICRC,” she said. Pillay mentioned that 250,000 people remain internally displaced in Georgia, unable to return to their homes and lands –220,000 of that number are from Abkhazia.
“The government, with the help of donors, has constructed good quality housing and established other essential facilities for many, although not yet for all, of the IDPs. However, I am particularly concerned about the human rights situation inside South Ossetia. Reports suggest that living conditions are poor and getting poorer there,” the commissioner stated.
The commissioner also stated that the government, led by the Prime Minister, has embarked on a wide range of reforms in the area of human rights and rule of law. “One of the most important of these has been a focus on depoliticizing a dysfunctional judiciary and law enforcement system. This is a major task that will take time to complete, but it is widely recognized that there is already some progress,” she said.
Pillay urged the authorities to maintain this momentum and to consider allowing more NGOs to have access, in addition to the National Preventive Mechanism. “I have also urged the setting up of an independent mechanism for investigating future allegations of ill-treatment or other abuses, as defined by the National Human Rights Action Plan, due to be adopted later this year. Similarly, I have also suggested an independent investigative body to look into allegations of abuse by the police and other law enforcement agencies,” she stressed.
Pillay positively assessed the anti-discrimination law. However, she mentioned that the implementation of the draft would be far more significant.
“I have urged senior government officials to speak out strongly and consistently in public in support of tolerance, stressing the importance of avoiding discrimination against any group,” Pillay stated.
Members of the Georgian government stated that human rights have become a focus for the new government of Georgia. They state that after their coming to power, human rights have significantly improved, ranging from the situation in the penitentiary system to press freedom.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary minority United National Movement is accusing the government of engaging in a permanent pursuit of political opponents.