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UN Human Rights Commissioner Reports on Human Rights Situation in Georgia

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Wednesday, October 4
De facto authorities refused to cooperate with OHCHR

On September 29, during the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) held in Geneva, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presented a report concerning human rights situation in Georgia. The report does not reflect human rights situation in the entire country as despite repeated requests de facto authorities of Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia did not allow access of international monitors to study the situation.

The issue has been highlighted in the OHCHR report as it raises some questions about the human rights situation in these regions.

“We reiterate our request that unhindered access be granted to the human rights office and to international and regional human rights mechanisms in order that we might assist in protecting the human rights of the affected populations,” reads the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report.

The 17-page report covers such topics as administration of justice, combating torture, ill-treatment, protecting the right to privacy, promoting gender equality, and combating discrimination. Four main aspects are highlighted in the document:

A. Main areas of technical cooperation;

B. Access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia;

C. Situation of internally displaced persons and refugees;

D. Human rights framework and key issues.

The report expresses concern about the conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) stating that “internally displaced persons and refugees continue to be deprived of the right to return to their homes in a safe and dignified manner.”

Up to now, there are a number of international organizations that have operated on the territory of Abkhazia and have focused mainly on humanitarian aid and assistance. Among these organizations are:

• World Vision International (WVI)
• Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
• Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
• Action against Hunger (ACF)
• International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
• United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
• United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
• United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
• The HALO Trust

The international monitoring organizations such as European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) are forbidden to operate in the territory of Abkhazia by the de facto government. It is noteworthy that in October 2016, member of the UN General Assembly, Russia has lost its seat at the Human Rights Council due to its actions in Syria.

The report studies wider issues of human rights situation in Georgia mentioning several cases when the police approached individuals with “an invitation for a conversation.” The case of disputed ownership of TV company Rustavi 2 was also mentioned in the report, which stated the progress report on implementation of the National Strategy noted that the fact caused “significant skepticism in society as to the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.” Under protecting the right to privacy, the report also referred to the decision of Georgian Parliament to override the President’s veto on new legislation to create Operative-Technical Agency mandated to conduct surveillance activities. It is reported that a number of OHCHR recommendations aimed at ensuring the independence of the leadership of agency tasked with surveillance were rejected by the Parliament. Regarding the gender equality and combating domestic violence the document states that the Office of the Public Defender reported 13 cases of femicide in 2016.