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The News in Brief

Tuesday, October 3
UN Human Rights Commissioner Presents Report on Georgia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presented a report on the human rights situation in Georgia during the 36th session of the United Nations Human Right Council (OHCHR), held in Geneva on September 11-29.

The report, submitted in accordance with the Human Rights Council resolution 34/37, sets out examples of the technical assistance provided by OHCHR in Georgia and reviews the main human rights developments, including in and around Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

According to the report, the High Commissioner welcomes “the continuous cooperation between the Government of Georgia and OHCHR and the commitment of the Government to taking steps to improve the national human rights protection system.”

“However, concerns remain with regard to the lack of any independent and effective framework to investigate, prosecute and punish cases of torture and ill-treatment and provide remedies for victims or their families; to protect the right to privacy and freedom of the media; to combat discrimination; to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the fairness of trials; and to improve access to economic and social rights for vulnerable people,” the document also reads.

According to the report, despite calls in the resolution 34/37 for granting access for OHCHR and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region, “authorities in control” have refused to grant OHCHR access to either Abkhazia or South Ossetia. “Lack of access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia raises legitimate questions and concerns about the human rights situation of the population living there,” OHCHR noted.

“Credible and verified information about the human rights situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is lacking,” states the document, adding that “according to available information, some practices in Abkhazia and South Ossetia appear to amount to discriminatory patterns based on ethnic grounds, especially with regard to freedom of movement, access to personal documents, the right to education and property rights.”

“Restrictions to freedom of movement on the administrative boundary lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain among major concerns, and considerably hamper the enjoyment of other rights and constrain confidence-building measures across the dividing lines,” reads the report.

According to the document, “measures such as the closure of crossing points, the so-called “borderization” process, and procedures applicable to access to and management of dividing lines and adjacent areas are compounded by limited access to documents necessary to exercise civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights without discrimination.”

Among other issues, the report expresses “great concern” over the suspension of an investigation into the killing of an ethnic Georgian civilian man at the Khurcha-Nabakevi crossing point on May 19, 2016. It also notes that the closure of two crossing points along the Enguri River “undermines efforts to uphold freedom of movement as a human right and an important confidence-building measure.”

Other human rights issues relevant to the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions discussed in the report concern the detention of local Georgian residents on the occupation line, restriction of education in Georgian language in Gali District of Abkhazia, lack of proper personal documents for ethnic Georgians, and violations of their property rights.

German Defence Minister to visit Tbilisi

German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen will visit Tbilisi on October 5 upon the invitation by her Georgian counterpart Levan Izoria, the German Embassy in Tbilisi says.

After a reception with military honours at the Georgian Ministry of Defence, Von der Leyen will talk with Izoria about further deepening of German-Georgian military cooperation, especially joint deployment in Afghanistan.

Afterwards, she will present a wreath at the memorial for fallen soldiers of war at Heroes Square, followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

Von der Leyen will visit the Defence Institution Building School (DIB-S) on Chonkadze Street, where she will be briefed about the school’s recent progress. The DIB-S is one of the 15 projects from the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which is decisively supported by Germany. Germany is not only the project manager, but has also allocated € 740,000 for the development of the DIB-S.

After the meeting with Defence Minister Izoria, a joint press conference of the two officials is scheduled at the Defence Ministry in Tbilisi.