Gov’t welcomes UN Human Rights report on Georgia

Justice Minister said guaranteeing the rule of law and ending impunity had been “a top governmental priority.”, 31 Jul 2014 - 14:52, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Government of Georgia is welcoming the United Nations (UN) latest report on Georgia which highlights the country’s progress in ensuring human rights.

In the report, conclusions were adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee that further urged Georgia to continue implementing reforms and continue its efforts to end impunity.

"Over the last two years, Georgia has undertaken deep and comprehensive reforms to entrench democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and we are very pleased to see our efforts recognised and supported by this important UN body,” Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani said.

"We welcome the recommendations included in the report and pledge to pursue further reforms to ensure the full protection of human rights in Georgia, as well as accountability for past human rights violations,” she added.

Adopted on 23 July, the conclusions of the 18-member expert panel particularly welcomed the Georgia’s recently implemented National Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan, anti-discrimination legislation, judicial reforms and new guarantees for freedom of assembly.

The Committee now urged Georgia to continue reforms to ensure the full implementation of its new human rights policies and legislation to accelerate further planned reforms to the judiciary system. It also strongly encouraged the Government to pursue investigations into past abuses.

The report expressed concern that a number of serious cases of violence, mistreatment, torture and abuse of power under the former regime "are still pending”. These included "excessive use of force by law enforcement and/or prison officers”, "torture and inhuman or degrading treatment”, "violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrations on 7 November 2007, 15 June 2009 and 3 January 2011” and assaults on journalists.

The Committee also expressed its concern about "the tens of thousands of complaints lodged with the Prosecutor’s Office in relation to violations committed before the 2012 elections, including unfair trial, torture and ill-treatment and illegal expropriation.” Georgia should, according to the Committee, "complete investigations into these cases without any undue delay, prosecute perpetrators and, if convicted, impose sanctions that commensurate with the gravity of their acts and provide victims with effective remedies.”

Tsulukiani said guaranteeing the rule of law and ending impunity had been "a top governmental priority” but the sheer volume of cases and the need to ensure fair trials had caused delays.

"It was imperative to reform the justice system before we could start dealing with these cases. First we needed to ensure the independence of judges and the full rights of defendants,” Tsulukiani said.

The report acknowledged "the challenges faced by the State” and urged care must be taken to avoid political retribution. To address this concern, in 2012 the Georgian Government decided to limit investigations and trials to only the most serious crimes at the highest levels. In a bid to ensure full transparency, cameras were allowed into courtrooms and extensive international and civil society oversight was also permitted.