Human Rights, Civil Integration,Regional Policy,Self-Government, Environmental Protection Committees's sitting
The assignments of the consuming agencies and various Ministries will be reduced with 40 ml GEL as a result of reduction of administrative expenditures and the mobilized resources will be directed to universal healthcare program as envisaged under the State Budget 2016.
According to the Deputy-Finance Minister, Giorgi Kakauridze, the Budget 2016 has been developed in November, 2015. Deriving from some circumstances revealed upon implementation of the Budget, the incomes and taxes shall become necessarily to be specified. The resources structure to be obtained in capacity of the loan has been changed and the taxes inflicted within the projects funded by donor sources shall be reflected in the Budget. The Committees severally supported the draft.
The Regional Policy and Self-Government Committee considered the Letter-Agreement of the Change N1 to the Financial Agreement between Georgia and EBRD of August 20, 2013 (Water Infrastructure Restoration Project II). The draft envisages implementation of sub-projects in Samegrelo, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Guria, Shida Kartli and Kakheti regions in view of improvement of water supply and sewerage efficiency, service, public healthcare and environmental protection. The Committee supported the draft.
Joint Letter Sent to the UN Secretary-General to Stop Human Rights Violations and Religious Oppression in South Korea
On August 10th, 155 youth groups with one million members from 62 countries around the world sent a joint letter to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN affiliates, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The joint letter contained a request for recommendations to stop discrimination against Shincheonji Church, a new Christian denomination headquartered in South Korea, and a UN ECOSOC-affiliated organization named Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL).
The representative of this letter, the director and founder of FREE WATCH AFGHANISTAN, Mobeenullah Aimaq, said that he agreed with the UN's concern for the persecution of minorities and vulnerable groups as well as human rights violations that continue to occur in the pretext of fighting the coronavirus. To solve this problem, he proposed a joint letter to young people around the world to appeal to the international community.
He strongly urged that the Korean Government should knock off the prosecution of Shincheonji Church and HWPL in South Korea. "Prosecuting Shincheonji Church and HWPL should be immediately stopped so that the international reputation of the government, known as a proponent of peace in the globe, will be saved," he added.
In the letter, they reported the several acts of unfair discrimination and oppression of the Korean government and the media against these organizations by citing the concerns of UN Secretary-General regarding "disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, and the targeting of vulnerable groups".
According to the report, there have been over 5,500 instances of human rights abuses of members of the Shincheonji Church during this period of the ongoing pandemic. Among the cases include two female members’ death in suspicious circumstances. Many of these victims are promising young people who are now facing increased discrimination in workplaces and schools, violence at home, and even forced deprogramming.
The letter highlights that the members of Shincheonji Church are also victims who were unfortunately infected with the virus despite following the government's guidelines related to the pandemic.
Furthermore, the unprecedented custody investigation against 89-years-old Chairman Man Hee Lee of Shincheonji Church and HWPL was recently determined. The charters of these two groups have been revoked by the government and they have been subject to rigorous tax investigations. Those in leadership positions within the organizations also have been taken into custody for questioning.
In the Korea Times column titled “Can unpopular sect expect justice?”, Michael Breen, CEO of Insight Communications, referred the current investigation into Shincheonji Church as a “witch-hunt” by saying that Shincheonji is a safe target for politicians and others who comment in public since it is unpopular.
In the joint letter, they urged that cases of human rights, social and religious repression, such as the ones occurring in South Korea, must be put to an end in order to build "more effective and inclusive solutions for the emergency of today and the recovery for tomorrow."
Press Release of the Department of Public Relations
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and the Restoration of Light
A meeting within the framework of the Human Rights Dialogue “Turkmenistan - the European Union” was held
On June 18, 2020, a regular meeting as part of the Human Rights Dialogue “Turkmenistan - European Union” was held in the form of a video conference.
The heads and representatives of relevant ministries and departments of the country, including the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, the Ombudswoman of Turkmenistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and others attended the meeting.
The European side at the meeting was represented by the head and representatives of the European Service for Foreign Policy Activities, as well as the Head of the European Union Delegation to Turkmenistan.
During the meeting, issues of expanding cooperation between Turkmenistan and the EU in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law were discussed. An exchange of views took place on such issues as the development of civil society, the rule of law and judicial reform, as well as intensive interaction between the parties to reduce the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the framework of the online meeting, the participants discussed the comprehensive promotion of economic, social and cultural rights of the people in the framework of international and local documents, including the National Plan of Action for Gender Equality for 2015-2020, the National Human Rights Action Plan for 2016-2020, the National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings for 2020-2022, the National Plan of Action for the realization of children's rights in Turkmenistan for 2018-2022, as well as the National Strategy of Turkmenistan for the Early Development of the Child for 2020-2025 and others.
Also during the dialogue, the parties expressed views on expanding cooperation between Turkmenistan and the EU in the framework of multilateral forums and international organizations.
The current session of the Human Rights Dialogue “Turkmenistan - European Union” serves yet as another proof of the adherence of the parties to multifaceted bilateral cooperation.
Preventing COVID-19: Council of Europe supports prison systems in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia
In response to the emergency of COVID-19 pandemic and to the need of providing urgent support to inmates and prison staff, in the context of its cooperation programmes, the Council of Europe has donated protective materials to five member States: Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
In Georgia, donations included 6,500 masks, 2,500 face shields and 500 litres of sanitizer and antiseptic liquid, 20 pulse oximeters; 5,000 disposable plastic shoe covers; and 3,000 medical disposable headcovers.
A total of 13,760 masks; 2,500 facial shields; 1,240 litters of disinfectant/sanitizer for hands and surfaces; 84,000 gloves; 99 infrared thermometers; 2 oxygen generators; 5 portable saturometers; 10 bactericide lamps; 50 medical uniforms; 100 protective glasses, 20 pulse oximeters; 3,000 head covers; 5,000 shoe covers were delivered to prison administrations in the mentioned countries. 850 pieces of disinfectants and 5,000 gloves are also under way of delivery in North Macedonia, and additional items are expected to be purchased in Montenegro and Azerbaijan until end of June 2020.
These donations aim at supporting the commitment of the Council of Europe member States and their national prison administrations to adhere to the CPT statement of principles for the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty (see the statement also in Georgian here), in accordance with the World Health Organization guidelines in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donations were delivered following requests from the Ministries of Justice and prison administrations within the framework of the cooperation activities implemented by the Criminal Law Cooperation Unit, Action against Crime Department, Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law.
The donation to Georgia was possible in the framework of the project Enhancement of Human Rights and Health-Care Support to Penitentiary System (financed through CoE Action Plan for Georgia 2016-2019).
Statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe
/STRASBOURG/ We welcome the political agreement reached yesterday, 8 March, by the majority and opposition in Georgia on the 2020 electoral system, which puts an end to uncertainty that lasted for several months and opens the way to depolarization of the political debate, in the run-up of this year’s elections. Talks were facilitated by representatives of the international community in Georgia including from the European Union, the United States, Germany and the Council of Europe.
We look forward to the adoption in Parliament of the provisions of this agreement, as well as all other necessary changes to the electoral legislation, in line with international recommendations. The Council of Europe including its Venice Commission will continue to offer its assistance to Georgian authorities towards a successful completion of the process.
We commend political parties’ commitment to strive for the highest standards of functioning of Georgia’s judiciary, and protect judicial and electoral processes from inappropriate political interference. This will contribute to upholding the relevant provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights and the Council of Europe standards on electoral matters.
The Coronavirus Spreads the Virus of Human Rights Violation and Intolerance
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus infections in South Korea with many cases found among members of a Christian denomination named the Shincheonji Church of Jesus is raising concerns that hatred and animosity targeted to the specific religious organization increase human rights violations.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), an organization under the Ministry of Welfare and Health, stated that 123 additional cases have been confirmed with the total of 556 as of February 23. Many of confirmed cases were found in the city of Daegu and the North Gyeongsang Province.
South Korean prime minister Chung Sye-Kyun in his public statement asked citizens to cooperate with the government and avoid large-scale gatherings and the virus has low fatality rate and can be cured sufficiently by early isolation and treatment.
But the South Korean government did not mention prohibition of entry from China, which has constantly been raised by Korean Medical Association and opposition parties. For the online national petition to the executive office for the President of South Korea on the prohibition of entry, no official responses have been made by the government despite 760,000 supports. The South Korean public news agency, Yonhap News, introduced the possible relationship between the influx of 1,000 Chinese school trips to Daegu last month.
The Shincheonji Church, which has gained main attention for the virus proliferation and counteraction, released a statement on the same day that the church is in close cooperation with the health authorities, including offering the full list of members the Shincheonji Church in Daegu to the KCDC, as many members of the church have been exposed to the virus after the 31st confirmed case from a member of the church was found.
With the fear of increasing infection cases, major newspaper reports and social media posts in South Korea turn their eyes on the Shincheonji Church, many of which are speculative information. Some South Korean media owned by the conservative and fundamentalist Protestant groups that have denounced Shincheonji released an article saying that Shincheonji ordered its members to participate in other church services so that the Coronavirus is not solely the Shincheonji problem.
“As a scholar who has studied Shincheonji, I am concerned with the fact that international media that obviously know nothing about it have “discovered” this church overnight because of the coronavirus incidents in Korea, and have repeated inaccurate information they found on low-level Internet sources,” said Prof. Massimo Intovigne, a well-known Italian sociologist of religion and the managing director of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions).
“Even of more concern is the fact that Shincheonji members who have contracted the virus, who are the victims in this story, are being treated unfairly by the Korean media and described as “cultists.” Worse still, some Shincheonji members have been insulted, discriminated and forced out of their jobs, as scapegoats for what has become a national and international hysteria about the virus,” added Prof. Intovigne.
The negative attitude against the new Christian denomination is on the ground of decades-long confrontation with the conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups whose political activism raised controversies on corruption, which triggered breakaway from these groups and joining the new Christian movement led by Shincheonji.
“Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the illegal activities of the conservative church in South Korea, such as kidnapping and confinement for forced conversion, resulted in violence against the rapid increase of Shincheonji members. Intensifying the degree of indiscriminate hatred promoted by unfounded information in media and communication platforms poses a continuing, grave concern for the already gross violation of human rights against them,” said Willey Fautré, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF).