Congress Electoral Assessment Mission to Georgia

Published in Society
Friday, 20 October 2017 19:42

Strasbourg, 20 October 2017 – A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is carrying out an Electoral Assessment Mission to Georgia from 20 to 22 October 2017, in order to monitor the local elections scheduled for 21 October.

The delegation, composed of the Thematic Spokespersons on election observation, Stewart DICKSON (United-Kingdom, ILDG) and Jos WIENEN (Netherlands, EPP/CCE), as well as Congress’ Vice-President Barbara TOCE (Italy, SOC), is joining efforts with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Further to the Election Day, Stewart Dickson will present, together with Corien Jonker, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission, the preliminary post-election statement at a joint Press Conference scheduled  for 22 October 2017, 3 pm  (venue: Biltmore Hotel, 29 Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi).

The press conference will be live streamed on the OSCE/ODIHR website at:http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/georgia/339371

 

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  • Vote on 2 October was a missed opportunity for local democracy in Georgia, says Head of Congress delegation

    Strasbourg, 4 October 2021 - The Congress concluded its mission to observe the local elections held on 2 October in Georgia. David ERAY (Switzerland, EPP/CCE, R), Head of the delegation, underlined the extremely polarized political environment in the country as well as an increase in verbal aggression, hate speech and fake news on social media during the campaign. “This polarisation had a paralyzing effect on local democracy which, in fact, has been taken hostage of the overall national political situation. Against this background, this poll was a missed opportunity for local democracy in Georgia”, Mr Eray stated. The overall unlevel playing field, pressure on voters and vote-buying were further features of these elections which raised concern of the Congress delegation.

    Further to the invitation by the Georgian authorities, the Congress carried out an election observation mission from 29 September to 3 October 2021 and observed the local elections held on 2 October as part of a joint international election observation mission together with the OSCE/ODIHR and the European Parliament. The Congress mission comprised 18 members representing 15 Council of Europe countries who observed elections in 9 regions of Georgia, visiting in total some 120 polling stations from the opening until the closing.

    The Election Day was overall calm, orderly, transparent and well organised. Except for some inconsistencies, particularly regarding the set-up of polling booths and finger-inking, the Congress observers did not notice major shortcomings during the voting procedures. Some polling stations in urban areas, mostly in Tbilisi, were comparatively small considering the large number of commission members and domestic observers and thus over-crowded. This led also to some confusion about the different roles of election workers, notably during the counting. Some of the Congress observers also reported violations of the new regulation on the 100-meter-perimeter around polling stations.

    Although new regulations were put in place to increase number of women on candidate lists by placing at least one in every three candidates of the opposite gender on the ballot, this legal provision proved insufficient as women were almost always placed as the third, sixth or ninth candidate, thus having much lower chances to get elected than their male counterparts. “In our opinion, this was against the spirit of the law”, Mr Eray stated. 

    Prior to the Election Day, the Congress delegation held meetings in Tbilisi with various interlocutors, including representatives of the diplomatic corps, domestic and international NGOs, media representatives, the Central Elections Commission and with the Deputy Minister of Justice and Head of Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections, Mr Tornike Cheishvili. Meetings with representatives from different parties including GD, UNM, For Georgia and European Georgia rounded off the preparatory programme of the Congress. The Congress report will be presented at the next Monitoring Committee and adopted during the 42nd Congress Plenary in March 2022.

  • Congress to observe local elections in Georgia

    Strasbourg, 29 September 2021 - At the invitation of the authorities of Georgia, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will deploy a mission to observe the local elections on 2 October in 64 municipalities. The mission will be headed by David Eray (Switzerland, EPP/CCE, R), and involves 18 Congress observers from 15 countries. It is part of a joint observation together with the OSCE/ODIHR and the European Parliament.

    The deployment on the ground on Election Day will be preceded by preparatory meetings in Tbilisi on 30 September and 1 October including representatives of the diplomatic corps, domestic and international NGOs and the media. The Congress delegation will also meet the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission, Mr Giorgi Kalandarishvili, and the Deputy Minister of Justice and Head of Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections, Mr Tornike Cheishvili.

    Together with the delegation from the EU Parliament a briefing with the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Core Team and with long-term observers will be organised. The preparatory programme will be rounded off by meetings with candidates running in the local elections and party representatives, as well as members of the Georgian delegation to the Congress.

    On polling day, nine Congress teams will be deployed to different cities, towns and adjacent rural areas across the country.

    The mission will be concluded by a joint press conference with OSCE/ODIHR and the European Parliament on Sunday, 3 October 2021, at 15:00, at the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace.

  • Georgian Prime Minister’s meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda

    Today, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.

    The meeting at the Administration of the Georgian Government focused on the relations between the two countries based on shared values and principles, emphasizing the tremendous dynamism of bilateral interaction. Lithuania is one of Georgia's most active supporters, the parties pointed out.

    The conversation revolved around successful and productive cooperation with Lithuania's delegations under various international organizations. The Head of Government thanked the Lithuanian President for ongoing support and the initiation of resolutions concerning Georgia.

    The meeting also focused on the importance of deepening the economic cooperation between Georgia and Lithuania, especially in the post-pandemic period, to boost economic growth and people-to-people contacts. In discussing the challenges posed by COVID-19, the parties underlined the importance of access to vaccines. The Prime Minister thanked the President of Lithuania for the decision to donate 15,000 vaccine doses to Georgia.

    Lithuania's unequivocal support for Georgia's path toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration was emphasized, and key directions of further joint activities and coordination were outlined. Georgia is preparing to apply for full EU membership in 2024, the Head of Government said and stressed the importance of political and economic reforms to that end. The parties discussed the upcoming NATO Summit, with the issue of Georgia included on its agenda, and expressed hope that the summit's declaration will reflect Georgia's significant progress on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration.

    The meeting also paid special attention to the situation in Georgia's occupied territories and problems plaguing the populations along the occupation lines. The President of Lithuania familiarized himself with said concerns during his visit to the village of Khurvaleti. Gitanas Nausėda reassured Irakli Garibashvili of his firm support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    The meeting was attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lithuania to Georgia Andrius Kalindra, Chief Adviser to the Cabinet of the President Ieva Ulčickaitė, President's Foreign Adviser Skirmantė Straigienė, and President's Chief Adviser for Communications Raminta Stanaitytė-Česnulienė, while the Georgian side was represented by Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and Georgia's by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Lithuania Levan Ghvachliani.

    Press Service of the Government Administration

  • Georgia: Leading MEPs react to the refusal of the political parties to reach an agreement

    In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.

    Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:

    “We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.

    We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.

    Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.

    In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.

    We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”

    Background
    The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.

    The statement is co-signed by:
    David McAllister (EPP, Germany), Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Co-Chair of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group;

    Marina Kaljurand (S&D, Estonia), Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the South Caucasus;

    Andrius Kubilius (EPP, Lithuania), Chair of the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly;

    Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;

    Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;

    Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;

    Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.

     

    Source: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20210401IPR01301/georgia-leading-meps-react-to-the-refusal-of-the-parties-to-reach-an-agreement?xtor=AD-78-[Social_share_buttons]-[facebook]-[en]-[news]-[pressroom]-[statement-georgia]-

  • Georgia: progress made in fighting human trafficking, but improved victim identification and strengthened criminal justice response required

    Strasbourg, 16.03.2021 – In its third report on Georgia’s implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Council of Europe’s anti-human trafficking monitoring body, GRETA, focuses on trafficking victims’ access to justice and effective remedies. The report acknowledges progress in implementing the Convention but calls on the authorities to step up their efforts to investigate cases of human trafficking and bring the perpetrators to justice, making sure that victims receive compensation and support towards their rehabilitation.

    Since the previous evaluation by GRETA, the Criminal Code of Georgia has been amended to ensure proper qualification of human trafficking offences. Further, the number of special mobile groups set up to carry out the preliminary identification of victims of trafficking was increased from three to four. The number of labour inspectors was also increased, and they received training on detecting cases of human trafficking and forced labour.

    Victims of trafficking are entitled to free legal aid during criminal proceedings, which is provided by specifically trained lawyers. GRETA welcomes the existence of a specific legal provision on the non-punishment of victims of trafficking for offences they were compelled to commit, as well as the expansion of the victim and witness co-ordinator services.

    However, GRETA considers that additional steps should be taken to ensure that victims and witnesses of human trafficking are provided with effective and appropriate protection from potential retaliation or intimidation. The authorities should further ensure that access to legal aid is guaranteed as soon as there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person is a victim of trafficking, before the persons concerned have to decide whether or not they want to co-operate with the authorities.

    Only three victims of human trafficking have received compensation from perpetrators through civil proceedings, and there has been only one judgement in human trafficking cases resulting in the confiscation of assets, the report says. GRETA urges the authorities to take vigorous measures to facilitate and guarantee access to compensation for victims of trafficking, including by introducing a procedure through which victims are entitled to obtain a decision on compensation from the offender as part of the criminal trial, and making full use of the legislation on the freezing and forfeiture of offenders’ assets to secure compensation to victims of trafficking.

    In the period 2015-2018, a total of 80 investigations were conducted into human trafficking cases, and there were 15 convictions. GRETA notes with concern that there have been no convictions for trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation and urges the Georgian authorities to ensure that human trafficking cases are not re-qualified as other offences which carry lighter penalties.

    GRETA is concerned by the decrease in the number of victims identified and the high threshold required to grant the status of victim of human trafficking. GRETA urges the authorities to take further steps to proactively identify victims of trafficking, including amongst foreign workers, asylum seekers and persons placed in immigration detention centres.

    The Georgian authorities should also strengthen their efforts in the areas of prevention of child trafficking, paying increased attention to the link between trafficking in children and the use of information and communications technology.

    Georgia is primarily a country of origin and, to a lesser extent, a country of destination and transit of victims of trafficking in human beings, according to the report. The total number of victims identified in the period 2015-2019 was 66. Until 2018, the majority of the identified victims were women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but in 2019 all identified victims were Georgian children, trafficked for the purpose of production of child sexual abuse images (23 girls aged from 8 to 18 years) or exploitation of begging (two boys and four girls).

    ***

    The Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is an independent body which monitors the way countries implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. So far, forty-six of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe are bound by the Convention, as well as Belarus, a non-member state.

    GRETA and Georgia

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