A new report on human rights practice in 2020 released by the US State Department on March 30th said: “Judicial independence and detentions, investigations and law enforcement are generally considered to be politically motivated. unlawful impairment of privacy; limited respect for freedom of peaceful assembly and association; and crimes related to violence or threats against LGBTI people ”were some of the top human rights issues in Georgia.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Georgian government has taken steps to investigate some officials for human rights violations. Impunity remained a problem, however, including a lack of accountability for the improper police Use against journalists and protesters during the demonstrations in June 2019 and the kidnapping and transfer of Azerbaijani journalists and activists from Georgia in 2017 Afgan Mukhtarli. ”
“The Judicial Clan”
The report said: “There were continued indications of interference with the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. The judges were exposed to political pressure inside and outside the judiciary. “
She cited concerns from the Public Defender’s Office, the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Justice, and the international community, who highlight the existence of the “judicial clan” – a group of non-reformist judges who rule over their counterparts in the system. among the central problems of the independence of the judiciary. The document referred to “the clan” about nine times in the long piece on the court.
Speaking of defects in the “fourth waveThe 2019 reform document cited NGOs who reported that one of the lever court chairpersons used to influence the outcomes of cases set up narrowly specialized chambers in larger courts to manipulate the randomized case assignment process.
The report found that “the longstanding practice of transferring judges from one court to another remains a problem” as the High Council of Justice has made “unfounded” decisions. It said that “most of the judges transferred to administrative chambers were affiliated with the ‘clan’ and almost all of them were associated with high profile cases,” adding that “administrative chambers rule on electoral disputes”.
The document cited NGOs who reported that “after the October 31 parliamentary elections, the courts did not act as an effective control over the electoral administration in examining appeals.”
“In one case, the Bolnisi Court, followed by the Tbilisi Court of Appeals, declined to annul or order a repeat vote in a district after video evidence showed that a person in Bolnisi had illegally voted several times in the same district “It says highlighted in the report.
With regard to corruption, the government has effectively implemented the low-level corruption law, according to the State Department’s report, while NGOs continued to cite weak controls and lack of independence of law enforcement agencies as contributing factors High level corruption allegations.
Political and civil liberties
The report quoted the public defender’s office and non-governmental organizations as criticizing: “Police use of water cannons Protesters disperse outside the Central Election Commission on Nov. 8 after protesters attempted to break through a metal fence around the commission. “
“The effectiveness of government mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse by law enforcement officers and security forces has been limited, and national and international concerns about impunity have remained high,” the document stressed.
There were also reports that police continued to use the Administrative Offenses Code to restrict freedom of assembly.
The document said there were widespread reports that the government was monitoring political opposition and that local and international NGOs reported government officials monitoring independent Azerbaijani journalists and activists living in the country.
The report also referred to and noted the last parliamentary elections 26 local CSOs described the holding of the elections on October 31 “as the worst held under the Georgian Dream”.
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, which lasted several months throughout the year, the report said, “There have been no material reports of the government abusing its powers in a state of emergency.”
Abkhazia, Tskhinvali regions
The report dearly referred to the state of human rights in the Kremlin-backed regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali / South Ossetia in Georgia.
It found that the de facto legal system in Abkhazia prohibits property claims by ethnic Georgians who left Abkhazia before, during or after the 1992-1993 war, thereby depriving internally displaced persons of their property rights.
The document quoted the Abkhazian “ombudsperson” reportCombating violations of the law by the “indigenous” Georgian people living in the occupied region. The Foreign Ministry said ethnic Georgians living in Abkhazia “had no basic rights and faced strict registration requirements that threatened their continued status.” It was also stressed that the Abkhazians “closed village schools and did not offer ethnic Georgians any education in their mother tongue”.
The report also discussed significant obstacles to internal movement resulting from lack of access to the Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region / South Ossetia. The majority of the approximately 290,000 internally displaced persons (internally displaced persons) residing in Georgia cannot return to their homes in these regions.
She also discussed the barriers to free movement in reverse and recalled that by the end of 2020 16 people had died in occupied S. Ossetia because they could not get into the Tbilisi-administered area to receive higher quality medical care.
Press, internet freedom
The report quoted civil society groups claiming the ruling party continued to seek undue influence over Adjara Public Broadcaster, a Batumi-based broadcaster, following the dispute Natia Kapanadze is dismissed. According to the message, new director Giorgi Kokhreidze “Dozens of employees fired and harassed who loudly criticized management.”
The document cited the public defender’s office, some media watchers, NGOs and opposition parties who suspected a number of law enforcement actions against critical media outlets or their owners were politically motivated, including the Condemnation of Giorgi Rurua, Mtavari Arkhi TV shareholder and the Investigation against Nika Gvaramia, the director general of Mtavari Arkhi and the Mtavari Arkhi State Security Service’s investigation into a report aired as harassment.
The report also addressed the attacks by representatives of the political parties on journalists during the election campaign in October.
While there was a relatively greater variety of media in Abkhazia than in South Ossetia, the media in both Russian-occupied regions remained restricted by the Russian and de facto authorities.
Regarding internet freedom, the document said the government has not restricted or disrupted internet access or censored online content, but concerns remain about unauthorized surveillance.
Workers’ rights, children, women, LGBTI groups
Regarding workers’ rights, the report said that the government only sometimes effectively enforced these laws because “there was no fully functioning labor inspectorate”. The government has not effectively enforced laws protecting freedom of association and prohibiting anti-union discrimination, and “appeals against arbitrary dismissals and legal disputes over labor rights are fraught with long delays”.
In this context, the document also noted that employers’ obligations to participate in mediation are not clearly defined by law or practice, as exemplified by a collective bargaining process that has stalled at the Adjara Public Broadcaster.
With regard to children, the document underlined that early school leaving rates remained high and the effects of early marriage, child poverty and child labor hampered access to education. More than 14,000 minors dropped out of school in 2019, up from 10,433 in 2018, it said.
The government did not effectively enforce the rape law, the State Department said. While rape is illegal, criminal law does not specifically address marital rape.
The report also cited the public defender’s report that LGBTI people continued to face systemic violence, oppression, abuse, intolerance and discrimination. It was highlighted that there were numerous vandalism attacks and demonstrations against LGBTI people in the Tbilisi Pride office from May and into the summer.
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