Georgia: PACE monitors call on all political parties to take up their seats in parliament

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 24 November 2020 10:30

Strasbourg, 23.11.2020 - The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia, Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE), today called on all political parties to accept the parliamentary seats they won in the recent elections and to enter into the new parliament.

“These elections have resulted in a diverse parliament where the ruling majority will face a strong opposition, that can ensure proper parliamentary oversight. The only appropriate forum for this, as well as for debating and challenging diverging political views, is the parliament. For the sake of Georgia’s democratic consolidation, we therefore call on all parties to accept the mandates they won in these elections and enter into the new parliament,” said the co-rapporteurs.

“We fully support the findings and overall assessment of these elections by the International Election Observation Mission, of which PACE was a part. At the same time we also note the significant number of irregularities reported, including persistent allegations of electoral misconduct such as abuse of administrative resources and pressure on voters and party activists. These allegations are of serious concern and need to be satisfactorily and transparently investigated by the responsible authorities,” they said.

“There can be no perception of impunity for electoral misconduct in Georgia. In addition, the shortcomings noted by the observers need to be fully addressed. The new parliament has an important role to play in this,” added the co-rapporteurs, who intend to follow these proceedings closely in the framework of the ongoing monitoring procedure for the country.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

 

The meeting of Archil Talakvadze with the Head of CoE Georgia Office

Published in Politics
Thursday, 09 July 2020 17:38

The Speaker, H.E. Archil Talakvadze held the farewell meeting with the Head of CoE Georgia Office, Mr. Cristian Urse and discussed the relations between the Georgian Parliament and the CoE and the future cooperation prospects.

The Speaker thanked the diplomat for his personal contribution in democratic development of the country and wished good luck in his further career.

Preventing COVID-19: Council of Europe supports prison systems in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia

Published in World
Tuesday, 09 June 2020 15:42

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).

Greece to take over from Georgia Chairmanship of CoE Committee of Ministers

Published in Politics
Friday, 15 May 2020 13:08

The Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will officially be transferred from Georgia to Greece today. The chairmanship will be passed at the meeting of the CoE committee of ministers in Strasbourg.

According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meeting will be opened by Irakli Giviashvili, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the Council of Europe.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani will deliver a speech and sum up the achievements and results of Georgia’s Presidency, will review the measures taken in terms of the implementation of the priorities of Georgia’s chairmanship and the cultural program.

The meeting will also be addressed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the President of the European Court of Human Rights, the Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

After Davit Zalkaliani’s speech, the Ambassador of Georgia will hand over the symbolic key of the chairmanship to the Permanent Representative of Greece to the Council of Europe.

The Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was transferred from France to Georgia during a meeting held in Strasbourg, the Organisation’s headquarters, on November 27 of 2019. The priorities of the Georgian Chairmanship included human rights and environmental protection, the participation of civil society in decision-making, child-friendly justice, and education, culture and youth engagement in strengthening democracy.

Georgian Foreign Minister: Situation in occupied territories significantly deteriorated, process of annexation and occupation continues

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 28 January 2020 14:52

The situation in occupied territories significantly deteriorated, unfortunately, the actual process of annexation and occupation continues, – Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani answered questions of the members of the PACE after delivering a speech at the Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg today.

“Installation of barbed wire fences and artificial barriers is in progress. Even when we speak now, the process is going on. I would like to recall the recent case of kidnapping and illegal detention of the doctor, who was visiting a patient on the occupation line, which was outrageous fact. The only instrument we have is consolidation of the international community, and that we are doing constantly, with your support, through different instruments and frameworks”, – Minister said.

According to the Georgian Foreign Minister, the pressure should be increased on the force exercising control over the occupied territories.

“The issue of access to the occupied territories is another important challenge that we also have to deal with on a daily basis. The recent case that took place in the Akhalgori district of the Tskhinvali region was the violation of the fundamental principles of international law – freedom of movement. We face this challenge in both occupied regions of Georgia – in Abkhazia and in Tskhinvali regions.  In Gali district of Abkhazia, ethnic Georgians are forced to abandon Georgian citizenship. They have no access to get an education in their native language, they are denied to get immediate medical treatment, they have no access to their agricultural lands, and this is happening in the twenty-first century, which is unacceptable. This should be discussed very carefully in all international formats. I’ve mentioned that only instrument is a constant raise of that issue and drawing the attention of the international community. We should not turn a blind eye on these illegal activities, otherwise, it will encourage the occupation force, the Russian Federation, to continue all these illegal activities”, – Davit Zalkaliani said.

Adopting its final agenda at the opening of the 2020 Winter Session, the Assembly decided to hold an urgent debate on the theme “International obligations concerning the repatriation of children from war zones”, as well as a current affairs debate on “Recent developments in Libya and in the Middle East: what consequences for Europe?”. The Session opened this morning with the election of Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE) as the new PACE President.

The Presidents of Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, as well as the Georgian Foreign Minister and President of the Committee of Ministers and the newly-elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe, will address PACE and answer questions.

Debates on the agenda include a complementary joint procedure between the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly in response to a serious violation by a member State of its statutory obligations, the functioning of democratic institutions in Poland, and reported cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

Parliamentarians will also discuss threats to media freedom and journalists’ security, a report on “Democracy hacked? How to respond?” and the protection of freedom of religion in the workplace.

The Assembly will hold two joint debates – one on migrant trafficking and missing refugee and migrant children, and another on organ transplant tourism and trafficking in human tissues and cells.

A report on minimum standards for electoral systems and a report on the observation of elections in Belarus are also on the agenda.

Avtandil Otinashvili, Strasbourg

New youth sector strategy 2030: strengthening democracy through youth engagement

Published in Education
Thursday, 23 January 2020 10:46

Strasbourg, 22.01.2020 – Today the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the new Youth sector strategy 2030 which will provide policy guidance to the 50 States Parties to the European Cultural Convention for the ten years to come.

Young people’s creativity, dynamism, social commitment and competences are crucial for any sustainable democratic society. For almost fifty years, the Council of Europe youth sector has been supporting generations of young people and their organisations to become actors of social change and assists public authorities to implement participative youth policies.

The new Youth sector strategy 2030 will give a new impetus to this work in four thematic priorities:

  • Youth revitalising pluralistic democracy,
  • Young people’s access to rights,
  • Living together in peaceful and inclusive societies and
  • Youth Work.

The Committee of Ministers, when adopting the new strategy, stressed the importance of the unique geographical scope and role of the Council of Europe youth sector and its instruments, including the co-management system, the European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest, the European Youth Foundation, and the partnership with the European Commission in the field of youth.

The Youth sector strategy 2030 is being launched in the framework of the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers (November 2019 – May 2020) which attaches the highest importance to the full and meaningful participation of young people in European societies, and aims notably at “strengthening democracy through education, culture and youth engagement”.

Spring session: addresses by the Prime Ministers of Georgia and Armenia

Published in Politics
Thursday, 28 March 2019 15:26

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will hold its spring session in Strasbourg from 8 to 12 April 2019, with addresses expected by the Prime Ministers of Georgia and Armenia.

The Assembly will hold joint debates on stopping hate speech and acts of hatred in sport - as well as the role of political leaders in combating hate speech - and on strengthening co-operation with the UN and implementation of the sustainable development goals.

There has been a request for an urgent debate on "The budgetary crisis at the Council of Europe".

Other topics to be discussed include promoting parliaments free of sexism and sexual harassment, the implications for human rights of social media, and a report on balancing the rights of parents, donors and children during the anonymous donation of sperm and oocytes.

The Assembly will also look at so-called “laundromats” and new challenges in combating organised crime and money-laundering, and will take a stand on the creation of a new EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights will present her annual activity report for 2018 and take questions, while there will be the usual exchange of views with the current head of the Council of Europe’s ministerial body, Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Timo Soini, and question time with Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

The Assembly will decide its final agenda on the opening day of the session.

 

http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/News/News-View-EN.asp?newsid=7388&lang=2&cat=8

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits Georgia

Published in Justice
Thursday, 27 September 2018 10:10

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a periodic visit to Georgia from 10 to 21 September 2018.

During the visit, the delegation assessed progress made in the implementation of the recommendations made by the CPT following the previous visit in 2014. In this context, the delegation paid particular attention to the treatment of persons in police custody and the situation of prisoners in penitentiary establishments, in particular those in high-risk and semi-open prisons, as well as juvenile inmates. In addition, the delegation carried out visits to several psychiatric hospitals and, for the first time in Georgia, to an immigration detention facility.

In the course of the visit, the delegation held consultations with Tea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice, Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Internal Affairs, David Sergeenko, Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, and with several other senior officials from the aforementioned Ministries. In addition, the delegation had meetings with Nino Lomjaria, the Public Defender (Ombudsperson) and staff of the National Preventive Mechanism Department of her Office, as well as with representatives of international and non-governmental organisations active in areas of concern to the CPT.

The visit was carried out by the following members of the CPT:

  • Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the CPT (Head of delegation)
  • Marzena Ksel, 1st Vice-President of the CPT
  • Gergely Fliegauf
  • Alexander Minchev
  • Ceyhun Qaracayev
  • Vytautas Raskauskas.

They were supported by Borys Wόdz (Head of Division) and Natacha De Roeck of the CPT's Secretariat, and assisted by an expert, Clive Meux, forensic psychiatrist, Oxford, United Kingdom.

The delegation visited the following places:

Establishments under the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Temporary Detention Isolator (TDI) in Batumi
  • TDI in Dusheti
  • TDI in Khashuri
  • TDI in Kobuleti
  • TDI in Mtskheta
  • TDI in Rustavi
  • TDI in Samtredia
  • TDI in Tbilisi
  • Old Tbilisi Police Department Division No. 7
  • Temporary Accommodation Centre of the Migration Department, Tbilisi
Establishments under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice
  • Pre-trial and High-Risk Penitentiary Establishment No. 3 (Prison No. 3), Batumi
  • Pre-trial and High-Risk Penitentiary Establishment No. 6 (Prison No. 6), Rustavi
  • Pre-trial and High-Risk Penitentiary Establishment No. 7 (Prison No. 7), Tbilisi
  • Pre-trial and Closed-Type Penitentiary Establishment No. 8 (Prison No. 8), Tbilisi (Gldani)
  • Pre-Trial and Closed-Type Penitentiary Establishment No. 9 (Prison No. 9), Tbilisi
  • Rehabilitation Establishment for Juveniles No. 11 (Juvenile Prison), Tbilisi (Avchala)
  • Semi-Open and Closed-Type Penitentiary Establishment No. 15 (Prison No. 15), Ksani
  • Medical Establishment for Pre-trial and Sentenced Inmates No. 18 (Prison Hospital), Tbilisi (Gldani)
Establishments under the responsibility of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs
  • Batumi Health Care Centre (Khevalchauri Psychiatric Hospital)
  • National Centre of Mental Health named after Academician Bidzina Naneishvili (Kutiri Psychiatric Hospital)
  • East Georgia Mental Health Centre (Surami Psychiatric Hospital)

 

Results of Council of Europe/European Union joint projects in Georgia

Published in Society
Friday, 03 November 2017 18:25

Today, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia and the Council of Europe have presented the results of their eight joint projects in Georgia conducted in 2015-2017 with a total budget of 3.7 million euros, funded by the EU (90%) and Council of Europe (10%) and implemented by the Council of Europe.

The country-specific projects have assisted with the application of the European Convention on Human Rights; civic integration of national minorities; strengthening the Georgian Bar Association; improving healthcare in prisons; countering money laundering; promoting freedom, professionalism and pluralism of the media; protecting internet freedom; as well as ensuring free and fair elections.

“Such projects and active co-operation with European institutions are very important for the reform process in Georgia, especially on its way towards the European and Euro-Atlantic integration,” said David Zalkaliani, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia who opened the event.

Cristian Urse, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, said: "We are taking stock of three years of extensive cooperation with the EU in Georgia, and the results are very positive. Our Partnership for Good Governance has enabled the Council of Europe and the EU to develop and implement cooperation activities with many national partners – ministries and public institutions, media or law professionals, and NGOs. As a result, the Georgian stakeholders' capacity to upheld and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in many fields has been raised and consolidated." He underlined the readiness of the Council of Europe to continue co-operation with the Georgian authorities and other actors in the years to come.

Vincent Rey, Head of Co-operation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, stressed: “These projects and co-operation are based on our shared goal to promote European values in Georgia in line with the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. Across the eight areas, we have already recorded tangible results – from improved health in prison to training of law professionals on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the training of media regulators.”

  • Among the results of the country-specific projects are the following:
  • More than 1,300 judges, prosecutors and lawyers have been trained on European Human Rights Convention provisions, and the database of the European Court case law in Georgian is to become operational by the end of 2017;
  • Georgian Bar Association has received operational support, with electronic examination procedure for conducting the Bar entrance exam having been updated;
  • Some 100 journalists have received training on fighting cultural and gender stereotypes, responsible reporting during pre-election campaign and on the mission and role of regional broadcasters;
  • Expert advice has been given to the Georgian authorities in developing strategies for improving healthcare quality control in prisons and managing crises in the penitentiary system;
  • Legal support was provided in the run-up to the October 2016 parliamentary elections and September 2017 local elections; 
  • Three sessions of Georgia’s Internet Governance Forum were supported;
  • Work to combat money laundering has intensified and will continue in 2018 when a National Risk Assessment is to be finalised.

In April 2014, the European Union and the Council of Europe agreed to implement targeted cooperation activities with EU’s Eastern Partnership countries to bring them closer to European standards in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In addition to eight country-specific projects, Georgia has also participated in 14 regional initiatives.

 Factsheet on results of projects in Georgia
 Factsheet on results of regional projects in which Georgia participated

 

A comment by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks

Published in World
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 19:08

I am appalled by what happened to Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist and activist, who has reportedly been abducted in Georgia and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan, where he is now facing prosecution for illegal crossing of the border and smuggling. Mr. Mukhtarli had been living in Georgia since 2015, when he left Azerbaijan to escape the government’s repression of critical voices.

According to his lawyer, Mr Mukhtarli affirms that money was put in his pocket by his abductors and alleges that they also ill-treated him. These are very serious allegations that require the utmost attention and urgent reaction by the Georgian authorities, which should carry out an effective, rapid and independent investigation into the events and take the necessary measures to act upon the results of the enquiry. In the meantime, Azerbaijan’s authorities must release Mr Mukhtarli without delay and ensure that he fully enjoys his human rights, including the protection from torture and ill-treatment.

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