Conflict in Georgia: Secretary General’s Consolidated Report says human rights challenges persist in conflict-affected areas

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 22 November 2022 17:37

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.

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.


 Press release

TÜRKIYE - Urgent Joint Opinion on the draft amendments to the Penal Code regarding the provision on “false or misleading information” issued

Published in World
Saturday, 08 October 2022 14:58

Strasbourg, Council of Europe – Today the Venice Commission issued its Urgent Joint Opinion on the draft amendments to the Penal Code of Türkiye regarding the provision on “false or misleading information”. This Urgent Opinion was prepared jointly with the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law (DGI).

The Commission concluded that the draft criminal provision on “false or misleading information” interferes with freedom of expression (Article 10 ECHR).

The Urgent Opinion will be submitted for endorsement by the forthcoming plenary session of the Commission (Venice, 21-22 October 2022).

Learning human rights to make a difference in Georgia

Published in Society
Thursday, 04 August 2022 11:37

The European Union and the United Nations are working in partnership to equip Georgia’s public and civic sectors with real-world, practical insights into human rights protection, organising a series of trainings last month for public servants, civic activists and journalists.

The trainings brought together representatives of state institutions, media, professional associations and civil society, and focused on the available tools and mechanisms to ensure respect for human rights in all areas.

On 15-16 July, a training session for journalists, carried out in partnership with the Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, addressed the impact of misinformation and disinformation on protecting the rights of ethnic and national minorities. The training programme highlighted the critical role of the media in combating hate speech and fake news and providing the public with reliable and trustworthy information.

On 17-18 July, lawyers from the Legal Aid Service and the Georgian Bar Association participated in a training on the rights of people with disabilities. They discussed international standards in protecting disability rights and the challenges faced by people with disabilities in Georgia in getting access to justice.   

On 19-20 July, human rights activists and representatives of organisations engaged in protecting the rights of LGBTQI+ persons learned how to prepare and submit alternative reports and communications to the UN human rights Treaty Bodies and how to use the UN human rights mechanisms for advocacy and strategic litigation.

Finally, on 28-29 July, representatives of Georgia’s Public Defender’s Office discussed how better to protect the right to health in Georgia, and refreshed their knowledge of international standards in this area.

“At UNDP, we deeply believe that respect for human rights is the foundation of democracy,” said Anna Chernyshova, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia. “A democratic society is primarily assessed by how it protects the rights of minorities and not just the rights of the majority. With this in mind, we join hands with the European Union and our partners to assist journalists, lawyers, civic activists and the LGBTQI+ communities to better understand and more effectively protect human rights, ensuring that no one is left behind.”

The European Union and the United Nations, through their ‘Human Rights for All’ programme, promote a human rights culture in Georgia and help increase public awareness of human rights values and principles. Working with a wide range of local and international partners, the EU and the UN seek to ensure that all citizens can enjoy the rights and freedoms safeguarded by Georgia’s Constitution and major policy documents in line with the country’s national priorities and international commitments under the Association Agreement with the European Union, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN human rights treaties.

Find out more

Press release

Social Justice Center from Georgia named winner of the 2022 Max van der Stoel Award

Published in Society
Tuesday, 26 July 2022 14:05

THE HAGUE, 26 July 2022 – The Social Justice Center (SJC) from Georgia has been selected as the winner of the 2022 Max van der Stoel Award. The Award recognizes its work to support and empower vulnerable groups, including national minorities, in Georgia.

Since its foundation in 2012, the SJC (formerly Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre) has worked towards long-term political and socio-economic transformation in Georgia, thereby putting the principles of human rights, equality and solidarity into practice. The SJC gives a voice to minority ethnic and religious groups, and supports their interests, with an emphasis on youth and women.

Commenting on its decision, the international Jury, chaired by OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov, stated: “This non-governmental organization advances equality, solidarity, participation and democracy at the political, economic and social levels through programmes such as the Social Policy Programme, the Equality Policy Programme and the Justice and Democracy Programme. This has resulted in community organizations and campaigns to promote the interests of national minorities. 

“Acknowledging its activism and courage as it tirelessly advocates for equality for all social groups in Georgia, the Jury took the unanimous decision to reward the SJC with the 2022 Max van der Stoel Award.”

The Award of 50,000 euros was established by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001 in honour of the distinguished Dutch statesman and first OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel. It is awarded biennially to recognize a person, group or institution for extraordinary and outstanding achievements in improving the position of national minorities in the OSCE participating States.

The Award ceremony will take place in The Hague on 17 November 2022.

Source: https://www.osce.org/hcnm/523407

Georgia should ensure effective implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation and improve protection of human rights in the fields of labour and the environment

Published in World
Friday, 15 July 2022 13:37

Strasbourg, 15 July 2022 - The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, published today the report following her visit to Georgia in February 2022, with recommendations on combating discrimination against LGBTI people and those belonging to religious minorities, as well as protecting human rights in the fields of labour and the environment.

To ensure that LGBTI people and persons belonging to religious minorities live free from violence and discrimination, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to address the inadequate implementation of legal standards and the persistent deficiencies in combating impunity for hate crimes and incitement to violence, and to remove the discriminatory barriers to the enjoyment of their rights.

The Commissioner notes that LGBTI people remain affected by instances of hate crime and pervasive discrimination in Georgia. She calls on the authorities to step up efforts to combat impunity for human rights violations against them and stresses that raising awareness among the public and training relevant categories of professionals on the importance of their role in promoting equality, dignity and non-discrimination should be a priority. She adds that hate speech against LGBTI people in the public sphere is an issue of concern and that an appropriate response to hate speech, including when voiced by officials, religious and community leaders and media professionals, is needed through an effective use of law enforcement channels and other mechanisms, such as prevention, monitoring, self-regulation, and counter-speech. In light of repeated occurrence of LGBTI people having been denied their right to peaceful assembly, the Commissioner stresses that authorities should adopt comprehensive measures enabling LGBTI people to freely express their views and assemble. Regarding transgender people, the authorities should facilitate legal gender recognition without invasive medical requirements and in a quick, transparent, and accessible manner.

As regards religious minorities, the Commissioner urges the authorities to ensure effective investigation, prosecution, and dissuasive and proportionate sanctioning for hate crimes committed on the grounds of religion and to remove discriminatory barriers in accessing places of worship and in regulating tax and religious property matters. “An open dialogue with all religious communities should be established”, she stated. To support this dialogue, she underlines the need for a meaningful partnership between competent authorities and religious denominations, for changes to the relevant regulations and for continuous training and awareness raising activities targeting officials and the general public. In addition, the Commissioner notes that the authorities should pursue their efforts in eliminating religious biases and stereotyping from school textbooks.

Noting that a decade of deregulation and the abolishment of the labour Inspectorate in 2006 led to a significant deterioration in the protection of labour rights in Georgia, the Commissioner welcomes the recent comprehensive legal and institutional reforms and urges the authorities to close the remaining legislative gaps by establishing a minimum wage compliant with international standards, by ensuring equal access to parental leave, and by developing clear guidelines on the duration and compensation for overtime work. “It is now important to ensure a full implementation of the labour standards, including the anti-discrimination provisions”, she stated. To this end, it is crucial to provide the Labour Inspectorate with sufficient and adequately trained human resources and an appropriate budget. While welcoming recent progress in the reduction of workplace accidents, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to further improve occupational safety at the workplace. She also recommends promoting and supporting diversity and equality at work, including with regard to the integration of persons with disabilities. The Commissioner further recommends that the authorities address the gender pay gap and gender stereotypes in employment, to continuously raise awareness about sexual harassment, ways to report it and available remedies, as well as to take resolute action to address child labour and prevent and combat child trafficking.

As regards human rights and the environment, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to strengthen the implementation of the existing national legal framework, to guarantee public access to information and meaningful and transparent public participation in environmental decision-making processes at various levels of government, as well as to improve air quality and the tracking of air pollution. They should also develop and implement preventive measures to reduce the risk of environmental disasters and to ensure protection of the rights of people displaced by such disasters or owing to climate change. The authorities should also provide a safe and enabling environment for environmental human rights defenders and activists and support their work

 

 

Georgia and the EU hold annual Human Rights Dialogue

Published in Politics
Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:07

On 22 June in Brussels, the EU and Georgia held the 15th round of the annual Human Rights Dialogue. 

Participants exchanged views on the human rights situation in Georgia and on recent developments in the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights since the last dialogue in July 2021. 

The Georgian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Teimuraz Gianjalia, and the EU delegation was led by Richard Tibbels, from the European External Action Service. The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, also participated in the meeting. 

The next EU-Georgia human rights dialogue is planned to take place in Tbilisi in 2023.

Find out more

Press release

Secretary Blinken to Release the 2021 Human Rights Report

Published in Society
Thursday, 14 April 2022 12:00

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will deliver on-camera remarks on the release of the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices at 1:30 p.m. on April 12, 2022, in the Press Briefing Room at the U.S. Department of State.

Acting Assistant Secretary Lisa Peterson of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will take questions in the Briefing Room immediately following Secretary Blinken’s remarks.

Promoting respect for human rights and defending fundamental freedoms are central to who we are as a country.  The United States will continue to support those around the world struggling for human dignity and liberty.  Required by U.S. law, the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices document the status of human rights and worker rights in 198 countries and territories.

Instructions for embargoed access to the country reports will be sent to members of the press on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 11:30 a.m.  The entire report is EMBARGOED until the start of the press briefing.  The reports will be available to the public on www.state.gov following the Secretary’s remarks.

This event will be open press and will be livestreamed on www.state.gov.

Please submit any media inquiries via the web form located on the ‘Information for Journalists’ page on www.state.gov.

 

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution on the occupied territories of Georgia

Published in Politics
Monday, 04 April 2022 10:45

On 1 April 2022, in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the Occupied Territories of Georgia - "Cooperation with Georgia."
The resolution of Georgia was presented by the First Deputy Foreign Minister, Lasha Darsalia at the Council session. In his speech, he spoke about the difficult humanitarian situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. He noted that despite the direct call of the Human Rights Council and the efforts of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Russian occupation forces continue to prevent the Office of the High Commissioner and other international human rights monitoring mechanisms from entering Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.
The First Deputy Foreign Minister once again underlined the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of 21 January 2021 - Georgia v. Russia - which confirms the occupation of Georgian territories by Russia and its effective control over them.
In his speech Lasha Darsalia underlined that Russia's pattern of behaviour towards its neighbors remains unchanged. Georgia experienced Russia’s full-scale military aggression in 2008. Recent announcement on conduction of so-called referendum in the occupied South Ossetia on unification with RF is yet another demonstration of continues aggressive policy vis a vis Georgia.   This pattern of behavior brazenly undermines the entire international rules-based order and poses grave threat to regional and global peace and security.
The First Deputy Minister reviewed the latest report of the High Commissioner, which reflects the grave humanitarian situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and the gross human rights violations experienced by the conflict-affected population in both regions, including various forms of discrimination based on ethnicity, and violation of property rights, restriction of movement and education in the mother tongue.
Lasha Darsalia noted that the report provides facts about the killing of ethnic Georgians in 2014-2019 and emphasizes that the failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crimes contributes to  strengthening the sense of impunity in the occupied regions. He also spoke about illegal cases of deprivation of liberty and noted that Georgian citizens are still illegally held captive by the occupation regime. At the same time, he stressed the need for the international community to work for their release.
According to the First Deputy Minister, the dire humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Georgia clearly indicates the need for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international human rights monitoring mechanisms to get access to the  occupied regions of Georgia.
During the discussion of the resolution initiated by the Georgian side, statements of support were made by the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Finland, and Lithuania. In its resolution adopted on 1 April, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed its support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
In its resolution, the Human Rights Council expresses serious concern also at various forms of reported discrimination against ethnic Georgians, violations of the right to life, deprivation of liberty, arbitrary detentions and kidnappings, infringements of the right to property, violations of the right to health, restrictions on education in one’s native language in both Georgian regions, and the continued practice of demolition of the ruins of houses belonging to internally displaced persons in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia, refusal of medical evacuations that led to the deaths of people and further isolation of the regions. The Resolution maintains that the increasing restrictions on free movement in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the humanitarian, social and economic situation on the ground and had particularly harmful effects on women’s and girls' rights.
The Resolution also expresses serious concern at the continuous process of installation and advancement of barbed wire fences and different artificial barriers along the administrative boundary line in Abkhazia, Georgia and Tskhinvali region, Georgia and adjacent areas.
The Resolution underlines the importance of the Geneva International Discussions established on the basis of the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008.
It is noteworthy that the resolution refers to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of 21 January  2021, which claims that Russia is legally responsible for violations of international law and fundamental human rights during and after the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, and for the occupation and effective control over Georgian territories.
The resolution condemns the so-called Parliamentary elections in the occupied region of Abkhazia on 12 March 2022  and so-called presidential elections scheduled for April of this year in the occupied region of Tskhinvali.
The UN Human Rights Council expresses serious concern at the repeated denial of access to international and regional monitors, including United Nations human rights mechanisms to both Georgian
regions by those in control of those regions and calls for immediate and unimpeded access to be given to the Office of the High Commissioner and international and regional human rights mechanisms to Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali  region/South Ossetia, Georgia.
The UN Human Rights Council requests the High Commissioner to present to the Human Rights Council an oral update on the follow-up to the  present resolution and to present a written report on  developments relating to and the implementation of the present resolution at its at its 50th and 51st  sessions.

Council of Europe leaders make joint statement on the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 09 March 2022 12:14

Strasbourg, 08.03.2022 – The Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chair of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Luigi Di Maio, the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Tiny Kox, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, have made the following statement:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, an unjustified military attack of one member State of the Council of Europe against another member State. We reiterate our unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

On 25 February 2022, following an exchange of views with the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers decided to suspend the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute and reaffirmed the principles to which we are unanimously committed, in particular respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. The Committee also called on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations in Ukraine.

We call on the Russian Federation to implement the interim measures indicated by the European Court of Human Rights on 1 and 4 March 2022. The right to life must be respected and guaranteed. In this respect we call on the Russian Federation to refrain from military attacks against civilians and civilian objects, to ensure the safety of medical establishments, personnel and emergency vehicles, to ensure unimpeded access of the civilian population to safe evacuation routes, healthcare, food and other essential supplies, as well as to ensure rapid and unconstrained passage of humanitarian aid and movement of humanitarian workers.

The Council of Europe also reiterates its call upon Russian authorities to comply with the principles and values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law which our Organisation represents on its own territory. The Russian Federation must guarantee to all persons under its jurisdiction the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to liberty and security, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

We once again call on the Russian Federation to stop its aggression, return to the path of diplomacy and fully recommit to European values. We will continue to follow the situation closely and remain committed to taking further measures.”

GLOBALink | Pursuing Common Values of Humanity: Chinese Stories on Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights

Published in CHINA
Thursday, 16 December 2021 18:20

They are probably the most ordinary Chinese people, who are going about their lives just like you and me, but who, with hopes and dreams, are trying to make a difference.

In Beijing, a group of university volunteers strive to help the visually impaired "hear" a movie. Can a world that is heard be the same with one that is seen?

In Shanghai, a mail courier is tasked with delivering the voice of the people. When the people speak, the country listens.

In the Daliang Mountains of Sichuan, a slow train is operating as it had been for decades, witnessing the history and changes along its tracks.

In Minqin, Gansu, grass-covered sand dunes are like chessboards, on which men outmaneuvers desertification.

In Wenling, Zhejiang, why did a man erupt in anger during a consultation meeting?

In Wuhan, Hubei, how has a photo inspired a touching symphony between two unlikely partners?

Click for documentary "Pursuing Common Values of Humanity: Chinese Stories on Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights," jointly produced by Xinhua News Agency and its think tank, Xinhua News Agency New China Research.

Produced by Xinhua Global Service

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