Statement of the President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, regarding the 71st anniversary of the Council of Europe

Published in World
Thursday, 07 May 2020 10:43

Today, the 5th of May, marks the anniversary of the signing of the Statute of the Council of Europe in London by ten countries.
 
This historic development represents the first attempt towards a united European action to promote peaceful coexistence, prevent conflicts and promote and protect the fundamental rights of all individuals in Europe, without exception.
 
The Council of Europe, with its 47 member States, has been instrumental in agreeing common standards on human rights, democracy and the rule of law for over 7 decades. Let me underline the fundamental role of the European Convention on Human Rights, drafted seventy years ago in 1950, by the then newly founded Council of Europe, that enabled the setting-up of a unique human rights protection system, constituting the anchor of European co-operation. I hope that this new decade will bring us the same determination to defend human rights as that of the authors of the Convention 70 years ago. It should be recalled that more than 830 million people living in our common European space have an ultimate right of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
 
This important anniversary coincides with an unprecedented global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our heartfelt sympathies go to those who have lost their loved ones, family members and friends. At this critical crossroads, we all have to be united and determined to do our utmost to overcome the current crisis.
 
After more than 7 decades of service to peace, democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights, the Council of Europe has contributed to number of significant achievements but there is still much more to accomplish. It is more urgent than ever to intensify our efforts to solidify respect for human rights in the years to come.”

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  • STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

    Employees of relevant units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are mobilized in Sagarejo district and are conducting investigative activities.

    According to the investigation, N.A. (DoB 1974) fired several shots from the balcony of one of the apartments of the residential building, as a result of which 4 people died and 5 were injured in the yard of the building.
    The accused person also opened fire to the directions of the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs up on arrival at the spot, one of whom was also killed.
    Additional police teams were mobilized at the scene of the incident, as well as a special unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Upon their arrival, the accused person presumably committed suicide with a firearm.
    Miners are starting to work at the site and more information will be released later.
    The investigation is being conducted under Article 109, sub-paragraph "L", Article 236 part III of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which refers to premeditated murder committed under aggravating circumstances and illegal purchase, storage and carrying of firearms and ammunition.
  • Two Georgia v. Russia interstate cases: Committee of Ministers says Russia must execute the European Court’s judgments, despite its exclusion from the Council of Europe

    Strasbourg, 09.12.2022 – The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has deeply deplored again the absence of response of the Russian authorities to its earlier appeals to implement the Georgia v. Russia (I) judgment from the European Court of Human Rights concerning the arrest, detention and collective expulsion of Georgian nationals in 2006-2007, and strongly exhorted the Russian authorities to pay the long-overdue just satisfaction. The Committee has also urged the Russian authorities to start executing the judgment in the case Georgia v. Russia (II) related to the armed conflict in Georgia in 2008.

    In the Interim Resolution (*) published today on the Georgia v. Russia (I) case the Committee of Ministers recalled that, despite ceasing to be a member of the Council of Europe on 16 March 2022, the Russian Federation is still required to implement judgments of the European Court, and the Committee of Ministers continues to supervise their execution.

    According to the European Court’s judgment of January 2019, Russia inter alia had to pay to the Georgian government 10 million euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 1,500 Georgian nationals. The Committee deeply deplored the continued absence of the information from the Russian authorities and reiterated again its most profound concern that the payment of the just satisfaction and default interest accrued has not been made despite the passage of over three years since the deadline for payment expired on 30 April 2019.

    The Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers will create and publish a register of just satisfaction owing in all inter-state cases against the Russian Federation and will keep it regularly updated as regards the default interest accrued so that both the issue and the sums due can remain under close public scrutiny.

    The Committee of Ministers has also adopted the Interim Resolution on the second interstate case, Georgia v. Russia (II). The European Court’s judgment on this case has become final in October 2021 and concerned various violations in the context of the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in August 2008.

    The Committee has urged again the Russian authorities to submit to the Committee of Ministers a plan on the execution of this judgment and to investigate the serious crimes committed during the active phase of hostilities as well as during the period of occupation. It has firmly reiterated again its profound concern about the inability of Georgian nationals to return to their homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and its insistence that the Russian Federation, which has effective control over these regions, ensure without delay safe return of persons wishing to return to their homes. The question of just satisfaction in this case remains pending at the Court.

    The Committee of Ministers will restart the examination of the execution of both cases in March 2023.  

    -------
    (*) An Interim Resolution is a form of decision adopted by the Committee of Ministers aimed at overcoming more complex situations requiring special attention.

  • MONEYVAL report on Georgia: improvements in the Financial Monitoring Service powers to disseminate information to law enforcement authorities, but other deficiencies remain

    Georgia has improved its measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing; it has demonstrated good progress and has been upgraded from “partially compliant” to “largely compliant” with the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) Recommendation 29, related to Financial Intelligence Units, concludes the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body MONEYVAL in a follow-up report released today.

    By enhancing the powers of the Financial Monitoring Service (Financial Intelligence Unit of Georgia) to disseminate information and results of analyses upon request and without a court order to all law enforcement authorities, Georgia has addressed a significant shortcoming earlier identified. Only minor shortcomings remain regarding a lack of explicit reference to require the Financial Monitoring Service to conduct operational and strategic analysis and the scope of the money laundering definition.

    The report also examines a range of legislative, regulatory, and institutional measures, such as introducing a central electronic reporting for online casinos, requiring a clean criminal record for beneficial owners of casinos, making sanctions for AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism) breaches applicable to casinos, as well introducing a broad regulatory framework for the investment fund sector. However, these measures were not sufficient to upgrade the ratings of Recommendations 22, 28 or 35, as moderate deficiencies in relation to the scope of covered designated non-financial businesses and professions and the sanctioning regimes remain.

    Overall, Georgia has achieved full compliance with six of the 40 FATF recommendations constituting the international AML/CFT standard and retains minor deficiencies in the implementation of 22 recommendations where it has been found “largely compliant”. Eleven recommendations remain “partially compliant” and one of them has a “non-compliant” rating (the recommendation requiring that countries review their laws and regulations to ensure that non-profit organisations cannot be abused for the financing of terrorism).

    Consequently, Georgia is expected to report back to MONEYVAL on further progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures in one year’s time.

  • Statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November)

    This joint statement is issued by the United Nations system in Georgia, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia,  the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia and the Embassies to Georgia of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we would like to join hands with survivors, activists, decision-makers, and people from every walk of life to take a bold stand against this global scourge.

    Stigma and impunity have allowed violence against women to escalate to pandemic proportions. Across the world, as well as in Georgia, violence against women and girls remains one of the most pervasive and latent human rights violations, both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination.

    A world where violence against women and girls is not just condemned but stopped is possible. It can and must be prevented.

    As highlighted in the GREVIO baseline report on Georgia published on 22/11/2022, over the past decade, Georgia has made significant progress towards effectively addressing the shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls by putting in place a comprehensive policy and legislative framework, producing data and strengthening institutions to effectively enforce the laws. Moreover, specialized services for survivors such as shelters, crisis centres and a hotline have been created, and law enforcement has been specialized to handle cases in a more sensitive and qualified manner. Importantly, there have been positive shifts in public perceptions and an increase in survivors’ trust in the justice system and services.

    Despite these significant measures taken to tackle gender-based violence in Georgia, women continue to die as a result of these atrocious crimes. Often, femicide represents the continuum of other forms of violence experienced by women and girls. Sexual violence also persists in Georgia, with an extremely low number of reporting and respective cases reaching the courts. The persistent patriarchal norms and deeply entrenched stereotypes in Georgian society tend to blame victims and condone violence against women and girls.

    We call for the strengthening of a holistic national framework to prevent all forms of violence against women and girls in Georgia.  Efforts should be translated into concrete actions through the necessary legislative measures by, inter alia, amending the definition of rape in the Criminal Code of Georgia to ensure compliance with the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention and other international standards, as well as by exercising due diligence to prevent (including through integrating the issue into the general education programmes), investigate, punish, and provide reparation for acts of violence. Building and strengthening an enabling environment for women’s economic, political, and social empowerment is paramount.

    Since everyone has a pivotal role to play in tackling violence against women and girls, we remain steadfast in our determination to support the Government of Georgia, civil society, and other partners to ensure that the inalienable right of women and girls to live a life free from violence is observed and enjoyed for the benefit of everyone.

  • First report on implementation of Istanbul Convention by Georgia welcomes steps on legislation, calls for more services for victims and dissuasive sanctions for perpetrators

    Strasbourg, 22.11.2022 – The Council of Europe’s monitoring body GREVIO in its first report on Georgia released today welcomed the many steps taken by the Georgian authorities to align its laws, policies and institutional framework with the standards of the Istanbul Convention. However, further legal amendments are needed, more domestic violence shelters and sexual violence crisis referral centres should be established across the country, bureaucratic obstacles related to obtaining victim status should be addressed, and steps must be urgently taken to increase women’s equal status in the Georgian society where patriarchal attitudes still prevail. The comments of the Georgian government were equally published.

    The adoption of the National Action Plan on Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims 2018-2020, accompanied by policies, constituted a very important step in aligning Georgia’s obligations with its commitments under the convention. Besides, the Law on Domestic Violence has been amended to address all forms of violence and contains such welcome elements as the provision of special leave for victims of violence for the duration of their stay at a shelter/crisis centre, as well as the formal assignment of victim status to those witnessing domestic violence, notably children. The offence of domestic violence as well as new crimes such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation, stalking and forced sterilisation have been introduced into the Criminal Code. Significant changes were made to legislation in 2019 in terms of prohibiting sexual harassment, and much effort has been made to raise awareness of the different forms of violence against women. However, the definition of rape and the other offences of sexual violence in the Georgian Criminal Code still needs to be amended, in order to fully incorporate the notion of the lack of freely given consent, as required by the Istanbul Convention.

    Victims have no access to fully established rape crisis and/or sexual violence referral centres that would be adequately geographically distributed all over Georgia. Besides, there are still very few services for women and girls at risk of or subjected to forced marriage, and administrative requirements such as obtaining formal victim status place barriers on women’s access to domestic violence shelters. GREVIO also urges the authorities to improve the access to support services and protection mechanisms to women exposed to the risk of intersectional discrimination, such as those from national and/or ethnic minorities, living in rural areas, women with disabilities and refugees, lesbian, bisexual or transgender women and older women. Children who witness violence often remain invisible to the system. Besides, financial resources allocated to state and NGO actors should be augmented, and the involvement of the latter in anti-violence law and policy development increased. 

    The criminal justice mechanisms for combating sexual violence face serious shortcomings: investigations and prosecutions lack in promptness, effectiveness, and sensitivity. The report calls for immediate measures to guarantee a quick and adequate response, in particular in cases of rape and sexual violence. The factors that contribute to the very high threshold for proving rape in court should be identified and addressed, and re-traumatisation of victims avoided all along the way. Urgent action should also be taken to ensure that criminal penalties imposed are dissuasive and commensurate with the gravity of the offence, and that courts take into account all incidents of domestic violence when deciding on custody or visitation rights.

    Besides, GREVIO urges the authorities to review the process of issuance of emergency barring orders by the police, to identify and address reasons for the high proportion of orders annulled by the courts (around 60% in 2018-2021), as well as to monitor compliance with such orders. Similarly, the causes of the high number of violations of restraining and protection orders should be identified, and adequate sanctions applied in cases of breaches of such orders. GREVIO notes with great concern that while in 2018 the number of investigations initiated for violations of restraining orders was 60 and in 2019 the number went up to 516, no information has been provided concerning the sanctions imposed.

    In its report, GREVIO also urges the Georgian authorities to ensure that women victims of violence who are in need of protection, regardless of their status or residence, shall not be returned under any circumstances to any country where their life would be at risk or where they might be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    Finally, GREVIO points out that patriarchal attitudes, and stereotypes about gender roles and acceptable behaviour are still prevalent in Georgian society. Persistent gender stereotypes and their peddling by the media should be addressed, and efforts to increase women’s equal status in society, public discourse and the media must be urgently undertaken.

    GREVIO and Georgia

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