Public Defender Meets with Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in Strasbourg

Published in Society
Wednesday, 26 January 2022 13:15

On 25 January 2022, during her official visit to Strasbourg, Nino Lomjaria, Public Defender of Georgia, met with Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Public Defender briefed the Human Rights Commissioner on the human rights situation in Georgia. Media environment, situation of equality and the need for monitoring human rights in the occupied territories were also topics of discussion.

Nino Lomjaria stressed the importance of the Commissioner’s support to human rights defenders and media representatives, who have been particularly pressured and attacked in recent years.

Talks also focused on the abolition of the State Inspector’s institution. The Public Defender informed the Council of Europe Commissioner of the constitutional complaint filed by her to request the declaration of the legislative changes adopted by the Parliament of Georgia on December 30, 2021 as unconstitutional.

Public Defender of Georgia

PACE rapporteurs call upon all political forces to overcome extremely polarised political climate

Published in Politics
Saturday, 18 December 2021 12:26

Strasbourg, 17.12.2021 - Following their visit to the country from 8 to 10 December 2021, the  rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the Monitoring Procedure in respect of Georgia, Mr Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Mr Claude Kern (France, ALDE),  expressed their serious concern about the extremely polarised political climate in the country which is foreclosing any political co-operation and dialogue. This is undermining the political stability  and democratic consolidation of the country, putting at risk the considerable  progress made by Georgia in this respect over the years. The rapporteurs emphasised that democratic consolidation and Euro-Atlantic integration are the shared responsibility of all political forces in the country and therefore urged them, in particular the two largest parties, Georgian Dream and the United National Movement, to place the common good of the nation over any narrow party-political strategies.

The rapporteurs noted that the October 2021 local elections had, as they had feared, been  a de facto plebiscite on the ruling majority, and had resulted in an increasingly harsh and contentious electoral environment.  That said, they welcomed that, as a result of the consensual reform of the electoral code earlier this year, the legal framework for elections had considerably improved, which had benefited the organisation of the election process . At the same time they expressed their concern about the many reports of abuse of administrative resources and pressure on voters, as well as incidents of violence. They called upon the authorities to fully and transparently investigate, and where necessary address,  all allegations and reports of electoral misconduct.

The establishment of a genuinely  independent and impartial judiciary that has the full trust of Georgian citizens is an essential condition for the further democratic consolidation of the country. Recognising  the progress made in this respect, the rapporteurs urged the authorities to conduct the comprehensive and independent evaluation of the third and fourth wave that was agreed upon in the Michel agreement. Such an comprehensive evaluation, which needs to be conducted independently to ensure public trust, should identify areas of success as well as remaining shortcomings and should guide future reforms. The rapporteurs felt that the Venice Commission should play an important role in such an independent evaluation. In this respect the rapporteurs deeply regretted that the parliament had continued to appoint new Supreme Court judges, despite the calls from the international community not to..  For the rapporteurs this also underscores the need for further reform of the High Council of Justice, whose functioning remains an obstacle for the establishment of a genuinely independent and trusted judiciary.

On the occasion of their visit the rapporteurs also focussed on developments with regard to  minorities  in Georgia. In this respect they welcomed that  the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on National Minorities had noted the greatly improved legal framework for national minority and anti-discrimination issues. However, the rapporteurs underscored the need,  expressed by the Advisory Committee to further strengthen the quality of education for minorities as well as minority language education, and urged the authorities to do this as a priority. With regard to LGBTI issues, the rapporteurs expressed their concern about the increasing public expressions of homophobia and intolerance towards the LGBTI community. In this context they condemned the violent attacks and counter demonstrations that had occurred during Gay Pride Week in July 2021. The rapporteurs  urged the authorities to fully investigate these violent actions, and bring perpetrators to justice, including with regard to the organisers of these  violent actions and those forces enticing them.

The rapporteurs will present their report on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Georgia to the Assembly in the first half of 2022. 

PRESS RELEASE
of the PACE Communication Division

 

PACE co-rapporteurs to make monitoring visit to Georgia

Published in World
Monday, 06 December 2021 16:59

Strasbourg, 6.12.2021 – Titus Corlăţean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ALDE), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia, will make a fact-finding visit to the country from 8 to 10 December 2021.

Discussions will mainly focus on the recent political developments, the October 2021 local elections, the reform of the judiciary, and the issue of minorities (ethnic and religious minorities, and the LGTBI)

In Tbilisi, Mr Corlăţean and M. Kern will have high-level meetings with representatives of the Georgian authorities, the Georgian delegation to PACE and the political factions in the Parliament.

The co-rapporteurs are also due to meet representatives of the judicial authorities, the Coalition for an independent and transparent judiciary, the Ethnic Minorities Council, the State Agency for Religious Issues, as well as representatives of the LGTBI community, the diplomatic community and NGOs.

Congress to observe local elections in Georgia

Published in Society
Wednesday, 29 September 2021 14:14

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.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia started preparations for the elections as early as in April and sent invitations to all international observers - David Zalkaliani

Published in Politics
Thursday, 02 September 2021 11:53

According to the Georgian Vice Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani, the local self-government elections scheduled for 2 October will be monitored by international observation missions.
 
The Vice Prime Minister said that the Georgian government started preparations for the elections as early as in April. Formal invitations were sent to all international observer missions, including the OSCE/ODIHR EOM, as well as to all international organizations and partner countries. "Two invitations were sent, one in April, before the election date was announced, and the other – immediately after the election date was officially announced" - Zalkaliani added.
 
According to him, the leaders of the OSCE/ODIHR EOM are in Tbilisi and a meeting with them has already been held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "We help them address all organizational matters and provide them with all conditions for normal functioning, including amid the pandemic. The experience we gained from the previous elections also helps us in this" said the Foreign Minister.
 
The OSCE/ODIHR EOM will assign 350 short-term observers to monitor the election process in Georgia,  “however, it is expected that the number of observers this time will be much higher than in previous elections, as the Foreign Ministry sent official invitations to the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe, NATO and OSCE, as well as to various international organizations” – said the Minister.
 
“We’ll do our utmost to ensure that international observers do their work safely and in normal conditions” – added the Minister.

MFA of Georgia

The Minister of Internal Affairs met with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Video)

Published in Justice
Wednesday, 28 July 2021 15:42

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Vakhtang Gomelauri held a meeting with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rik Daems, who pays visit to Georgia.

Within the frames of the meeting, the parties discussed the current issues, including the upcoming local self-government elections and the importance of conduction of election process in safe and free environment.
Minister of Internal Affairs provided detailed information to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe regardin the developments on July 5th and ongoing investigations on facts of violence committed against the media representatives.
Vakhtang Gomelauri expressed his gratitude towards Rik Daems for supporting democratic processes in Georgia.
At the end of the meeting parties discussed perspectives of future cooperation with the Council of Europe.
 

PACE President makes working visit to Georgia

Published in Politics
Saturday, 24 July 2021 10:32

Strasbourg, 23.07.2021 – Rik Daems, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is to make a working visit to Georgia on 27 and 28 July 2021.

In Tbilisi he is due to meet the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister, as well as the Foreign, Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers. Meetings are also planned with the chairs of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee and the Permanent Parliamentary Gender Equality Council, and with members of the Georgian parliamentary delegation to PACE.

The Assembly brings together 324 members from the national parliaments of the 47 member states. President: Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE) - Secretary General of the Assembly: Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis. Political groups: SOC (Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group); EPP/CD (Group of the European People's Party); EC/DA (European Conservatives Group & Democratic Alliance); ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe); UEL (Group of the Unified European Left).

Georgian delegation to participate in PACE session

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 23 June 2021 10:26

The Summer Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) takes place on June 21-24 in Strasbourg. The Permanent Delegation members of Georgian Parliament Irakli Chikovani and Tamar Taliashvili are participating in the session.

The delegation members will join the debates and hold bilateral meetings with various delegations’ heads and PACE officials.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will mark the 10th anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) with an event on this topic at its Summer plenary session, taking place from 21 to 24 June 2021 in a hybrid format, allowing members to participate remotely or attend in person in Strasbourg.

This event, an initiative of PACE President Rik Daems, will include speeches by: Nadia Murad, winner of the 2016 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize; Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe; Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium; Anca Dana Dragu, President of the Romanian Senate; Elisabeth Moreno, French Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities; and Dubravka Šimonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences. Zita Gurmai, PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women, will highlight the way forward to make progress with the signature, ratification and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

The Assembly will also hold current affairs debates on "The situation in Belarus: a threat to the whole of Europe", and “The need for an effective solidarity mechanism between European countries to relieve migratory pressure on front line countries”, with the participation of Panagiotis Mitarachis, Minister of Migration and Asylum of Greece.

In addition, the Assembly will discuss the protection of fundamental rights and the legal implications of Covid passes or certificates; the socio-economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic; and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s rights.

The agenda also includes debates on ‘Should politicians be prosecuted for statements made in the exercise of their mandate?’, ‘Transparency and regulation of donations to political parties and electoral campaigns from foreign donors’, and on ‘Enhancing participation of women from under-represented groups in political and public decision-making’.

The parliamentarians will debate media freedom, the situation of the Crimean Tatars, public trust and the people’s right to know, as well as the European policy on diasporas, with the participation of the Director General of the International Organization for Migration António Vitorino. The fight against Afrophobia in Europe is also on the agenda, with the participation of E. Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

In the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó will address the Assembly and answer questions. Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić will also take part in a question and answer session.

Reports on the recent parliamentary elections in Bulgaria and Albania will be discussed. PACE will also elect a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Croatia.

 

 

 

The 131st session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

Published in Politics
Monday, 24 May 2021 10:59

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.

Maia Sandu: ‘Where there is political will, there is genuine reform’

Published in World
Thursday, 22 April 2021 14:15

“Where there is popular will, there is change. Where there is political will, there is genuine reform,” today said Maia Sandu, President of the Republic of Moldova, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg.

Referring to the recent Presidential election, she said that “people voted for serious change”, meaning justice, better standards of living, access to quality education, healthcare and better infrastructure, as well as to “put an end to pervasive corruption”. Change means that “Moldovans will trust their state”, President Sandu underlined.

The Moldovan people “want the Presidency to join forces with a new parliament and a new government to clean the country of the vices that are holding it back - and they ask for your support in doing so,” she added. And this time, “Moldovan politicians should not fail the people.”

The drive for reform must continue “to come from the people, no matter what obstacles may block the road. And there are many obstacles. Corrupt forces will fight back, because they stand to lose not only their illicit revenues, but also their freedom.” But people “are determined to fight for change, and count on the support of Moldova’s partners in the Council of Europe,” President Sandu concluded.

On the occasion of the German Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth will participate in the spring session of PACE (19-22 April 2021) which will take place in a hybrid format.

The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, and the Secretary General of the organisation, Marija Pejčinović Burić, will also address PACE.

At this session, the Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, will present her 2020 annual report and the Assembly will award its Václav Havel Human Rights Prize.

There have been requests for urgent debates on "The arrest and detention of Alexei Navalny in January 2021" and "The functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey", as well as for current affairs debates on "Covid passports or certificates: protection of fundamental rights and legal implications", "Armenian prisoners of war and other captives", "Covid-19 vaccination certificates: how to protect public health and human rights?", and "Russian threat to the pursuit of peace in Europe".

Topics on the agenda include a debate on the Assembly's vision of the Council of Europe's strategic priorities and a joint debate on human rights violations and the need for electoral reform in Belarus.

The OECD's work on taxing the digital economy with the participation of its Secretary General Ángel Gurría, discrimination against people with chronic and long-term illnesses, post-monitoring dialogue with Montenegro, the preservation of national minorities and a European policy on diasporas will also be discussed.

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