US Department of State report evaluates human rights protection in Georgia

the report underlines that Russian “borderisation” separates residents from their communities and livelihoods. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, 21 Apr 2018 - 17:23, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian government took steps to investigate some allegations of human rights abuse, but shortcomings remain, the US Department of State said in its country report on Human Rights Practices for 2017 published on April 20.

According to the report, the most significant human rights issues in Georgia included: the alleged participation by government officials in the reported kidnapping and forced transfer to Azerbaijan of an Azerbaijani journalist; arbitrary detentions and deprivation of life by Russian and de facto authorities of the country’s citizens along the administrative boundary lines with the Russian-occupied Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; interference in judicial independence and impartiality; interference with privacy and violence against LGBT persons.

"Overall, if we compare the report to the previous ones, there are less critical assessments”, one of the leaders of the ruling party, Georgian Dream, Archil Talakvadze told reporters, adding that the situation in terms of human rights has clearly improved in prisons.

The report says that prison and detention facility conditions improved overall but conditions in some old facilities were inhumane and lacked sufficient ventilation, natural light, had minimum living space and adequate health care.

As for human rights violations in occupied territories, de facto authorities in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia restricted the rights, primarily of ethnic Georgians, to vote or otherwise participate in the political process, own property, register businesses and travel. On the other hand the report underlines that Russian "borderisation” of the administrative boundary lines separates residents from their communities and livelihoods.

According to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Dondua, the report expresses a "positive attitude towards the environment regarding protecting human rights in Georgia.”

"It is important that the report reveals how Russia and its occupation regimes restrict the access of international humanitarian organizations to the occupied territories which further complicates the situation in terms of human rights,” David Dondua added.  

As the report says, there were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings while the government continued to conduct investigations into several killings allegedly committed in prior years by former government officials.

On the other hand, there was an increase in complaints regarding mistreatment by police, according to the report referring to local NGOs who recommend the creation of an independent mechanism to investigate allegations of misconduct by law enforcement officials.