Conflict in Georgia: Secretary General’s Consolidated Report says human rights challenges persist in conflict-affected areasThursday, 17 November 2022 10:48
Strasbourg, 16.11.2022 – Concerns persist regarding the human rights situation in the areas affected by the armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia in August 2008, according to a report by Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić presented to the Committee of Ministers and published today.
The bi-annual report (covering the period April-October 2022) on the conflict in Georgia highlighted that core issues concerning the human rights and humanitarian situation in the conflict-affected areas continue to see little progress, with restrictions on freedom of movement, including through the illegal so-called “borderisation” process, and access to education and health care remaining of serious concern, including with regard to their impact on vulnerable groups.
Against this background, the Secretary General welcomed the continuous efforts and initiatives undertaken by the Georgian government aimed at promoting dialogue and reconciliation, and their provision of access to health care, education, and social benefits to residents of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
The report also noted the work of the Council of Europe to facilitate confidence-building measures which aim to build bridges between population groups and enhance human rights protection in regions affected by conflict.
During the reporting period, the Committee of Ministers started examining the execution of the European Court judgment on the inter-state case “Georgia v. Russia (II)” delivered in January 2021 concerning the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in 2008 and its consequences. The Committee reaffirmed the Russian Federation’s unequivocal obligation to implement all the measures to execute the judgment notwithstanding its cessation of membership to the Council of Europe.
Background note for Editors
Consolidated reports on the conflict in Georgia have been prepared by the Secretary General since 2010, following a Committee of Ministers decision. The current report is based, inter alia, on the results of the fact-finding visit to Tbilisi on 19 - 21 September 2022.
The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has adopted a decision on the agenda item “Council of Europe and Conflict in Georgia”Thursday, 05 May 2022 12:43
The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted its ninth decision on the agenda item “Council of Europe and Conflict in Georgia” on 4 May 2022.
The decision of the Committee of Ministers establishes the responsibility of the Russian Federation for the grave situation in Georgia’s occupied regions as the State exercising effective control over those regions. The document welcomes the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Georgia v. Russia that established the responsibility of the Russian Federation for grave human rights violations during the period of occupation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia following the August 2008 war, as the State exercising effective control over those regions
The Committee of Ministers also welcomes the decision of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant application for the war crimes committed in the context of the August 2008 armed conflict in Georgia, and calls on the Russian Federation to execute the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Georgia v. Russia as well as to co-operate with the Office of prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The Committee of Ministers expresses deep concern over the death of Genadi Bestaev, calls for removal of any obstacles to ending impunity in cases concerning the murder of ethnic Georgians in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and recalls the “Otkhozaria-Tatunashvili List” adopted by the Parliament of Georgia, and the national restrictive measures decided on by the Georgian Government against those responsible for grave human rights abuses in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
The Decision reiterates the call to the Russian Federation as the State exercising effective control: to immediately release Irakli Bebua, Mamuka Chkhikvadze and all other illegal detainees; to create conditions for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of all IDPs and refugees; calls for ensuring that the Council of Europe monitoring bodies are granted access to the Georgian regions concerned.
The document highlights the importance of engagement of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary General in monitoring the human righst situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomes yet another decision of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on the conflict in Georgia and thanks the CoE Member States for firm support and cooperation.
MFA of Georgia
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe held its 131st Session by videoconference, on 21 May 2021, where Germany passed its chairmanship to Hungary. The Georgian Foreign Minister, Vice Prime Minister David Zalkaliani spoke before the participants of the Ministerial Meeting, which took note of the Secretary General’s 23rd consolidated report on “the Conflict in Georgia” covering the humanitarian and human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied territories from October 2020 to March 2021.
The Ministerial Meeting highlighted the decision adopted by Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on “Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia” which holds Russia as the State exercising effective control over the occupied regions, accountable for the deplorable situation on the ground.
Speaking before the Ministerial Meeting, the Georgian Foreign Minister reaffirmed Georgia’s commitment to the organization’s principles and values, and the initiatives the government carries out to bring the country closer to the organization’s standards.
Discussing the difficult security and human rights situation in Georgia’s occupied regions, the Minister said that Russia’s illegal activities bring about negative consequences for the local population. Paying special attention to increasing number of illegal detentions by the occupation regime, Zalkaliani expressed his grave concern over the decision to prolong for more than twelve years the illegal detention of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze, and called for the international community’s strong position for immediately release of Zaza Gakheladze and all other illegal detainees. Referring to the judgment dated 21 January 2021 of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Georgia v. Russia, Zalkaliani said that this judgement lays down the firm groundwork for the success of Georgia’s efforts to achieve the de-occupation of Georgian territories and protection of human rights of the people affected by the Russian aggression.
It needs to be highlighted that the Hungarian Presidency identified as its priority the environmental challenges – one of the priorities of the Georgian presidency of the Committee of Ministers (November 2019 – May 2020).
“The environmental emergency, and especially climate change are among the greatest threats to human rights in our age. Continuing the process started by the Georgian Presidency, the Hungarian Presidency will also aim to strengthen environmental protection work in the Council of Europe through its existing instruments to secure better human rights protection standards in member States” – reads the document on Priorities of the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expresses its thanks for the efforts of the German Presidency, welcomes the priorities presented by the Hungarian Presidency and pledges its full support for its implementation.
The General Committee on Political Affairs and Security unanimously supported the 17-point draft resolution on “Conflict in Georgia”. The last, fourth sitting of the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security was dedicated to consideration of the supplementary items of the draft resolution.
The Committee members, except the Russian Delegation, unanimously supported the draft concerning conflicts in Georgia. The draft resolution was introduced by the Head of the Georgian Delegation, the Speaker of Georgian Parliament, Mr. David Usupashvili, speaking about the primary directions therein
The draft provides importance of enhancement of efforts for peaceful resolution of the conflict, violation of the norms of the international law by Russian Federation and disregard of Cease-Fire Agreement of August 12, 2008 by Russian Federation, current situation in terms of human rights on the occupied territories of Georgia – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia and establishment of wires and bunds by Russian Occupation Forces along with the occupation line.
The only opposing position to the draft resolution was expressed by Russian Delegation. The Russian Delegation estimated the document as anti-Russian and gave the negative estimation to the facts provided in the draft concerning annexation and occupation of the part of Georgian territory. “We do not support the draft resolution as it is politically motivated and does not express the will of Abkhazian and Ossetian people”, - the member of Russian Delegation, Mr. Nikolay Kovalyov stated.
The Deputy-Head of Bulgarian Delegation, Mr. Kristian Vigenin expressed his position that despite that the document is not at the desired extent balanced, it shall be supported as along with other issues, it provides improvement of routine life people.
After consideration and taking three remarks into account, the Committee supported the document, which will be submitted to the OSCE PA plenary session.
Thorbjorn Jagland: “We continue to exert every effort to monitor the occupied territories of Georgia
The Council of Europe continues to prepare reports on the conflict in Georgia and to obtain access to Georgia’s occupied territories, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland said while talking with journalists at the 126th meeting of the Committee of Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe in Sofia.
According to Thorbjorn Jagland, the decision taken by the Committee of Foreign Ministers and the report prepared by him include all the important issues on the agenda of the Council of Europe. The CoE Secretary General also underlined that he will continue working on this issue.
It should be noted that the Committee of Foreign Ministers took a decision in regard of the 13th Consolidated Report on the Conflict in Georgia, prepared by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
The decision refers to the human rights protection in Georgia’s occupied territories and is focused on Russia's responsibility to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights.
The decision “Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia” was adopted on 4 May 2016 at the 1255th meeting of the Committee of Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe.