The European Union this week published the 2022 report on the state of human rights and democracy in the world.
According to the report, overall, Georgia has a solid human rights framework, including in legislation and policies in line with international and European standards. However, implementation should be strengthened in several areas, it says.
“Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: Georgia applied for membership of the European Union in March 2022. The European Council recognized the European perspective of Georgia in June 2022 and stated its readiness to grant the status of candidate country once the priorities specified in the Commission’s Opinion on Georgia’s membership application have been addressed. These priorities include issues related to the strengthening of democratic principles, the rule of law and human rights obligations.
“Overall, Georgia has a solid human rights framework, including legislations and policies in line with international and European standards. However, implementation should be strengthened in several areas. In 2022, progress was achieved in the reforms of the electoral system, of the public administration, the enhancement of gender equality, the rights of the child, and the rights of persons with disabilities. Further efforts are still needed in the area of judicial reforms, anticorruption, and strengthening the independence of state institutions. The human rights situation in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains concerning.
“EU action – key focus areas: EU action in Georgia is guided by the Association Agreement and the EU Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy 2020-24. In 2022, the EU focused on strengthening the independence and accountability of the judiciary, reducing inequalities, contributing to the fight against discrimination, and empowering civil society to promote and defend their civic rights. The EU advocated and provided support to the realization of the rights of the child, the rights of persons with disabilities, the advancement of gender equality, and the fight against gender based and domestic violence. The EU also focused on advocating for the protection of the rights of the LGBTI community, including their right to freedom of association.
“EU bilateral political engagement: The EU engaged in regular political dialogue with Georgia throughout 2022 including on human rights issues. The EU-Georgia Association Council took place in September 2022 and the annual EU-Georgia Human Rights Dialogue in June 2022. The EU deployed significant efforts to encourage Georgia to develop the Georgian National Strategy for the Protection of Human Rights for 2022-2030. These included regular meetings with the Prime Minister’s Human Rights Advisor, in close cooperation with the UN, including in the framework of the EU HumanRights4all program. The strategy was endorsed by the government just ahead of the Association Council meeting and is awaiting parliamentary adoption. However, the process lacked thorough consultations with the international partners’ and civil society. A dialogue on the development of a comprehensive action plans to implement the National Strategy is ongoing. The EU has put forward suggestions aiming at integrating issues that had not been included in the strategy, such as addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, hate crimes and judicial matters.
“EU financial engagement: The EU Delegation continued to be at the forefront of protecting and promoting human rights in Georgia through implementing substantial human rights programs and systemic outreach activities. Key assistance has been implemented through the ‘EU4Human Rights’ (EUR 11 million). Its overall objective is to strengthen human rights protection, including the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups, the fight against violence against women and domestic violence, internal and external oversight of law enforcement, protection of privacy, child rights and the support to victims of domestic violence. Throughout 2022, the EU Delegation has maintained its support for civil society as powerful agents of good governance and socioeconomic growth. In the framework of the EIDHR Country Based Support Scheme (CBSS) for Georgia, Civil Society Organizations implement grants on issues encompassing social and economic rights of ethnic minorities, rights of persons with disabilities, the right to health, the promotion of gender equality in the workplace as well as equal, free and fair elections in Georgia.
“The EU bilateral assistance in this field is complemented by ongoing Regional EU program EU4Gender Equality for the Eastern Neighborhood countries of total budget EUR 8 million. Reforms of the judiciary was supported via the EU-funded Program for Good Governance PGG II implemented by Council of Europe. The components implemented in Georgia provided support to the judiciary, to court administrators, collection of statistics, High School of Justice, Supreme Court, Independent Inspector and others.
“Multilateral context: Georgia continued its multilateral engagement throughout 2022. It was elected Member of the UN Human Rights Council for 2023-2025. In March 2022, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on continued technical assistance by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights focused on the human rights situation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Through the resolution presented by Georgia, the HRC requested the High Commissioner to present an oral update and a written report on developments relating to the human rights situation in the two breakaway regions.
“On 9 June, the UN General Assembly adopted by vote, for the 15th time, the Georgian resolution ‘Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia.’ During the year, Georgia was also reviewed by the Human Rights Committee, monitoring compliance with the Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Committee on Ending Racial Discrimination. In these dialogues with Georgia, the respective UN Treaty Bodies expressed concern over the human rights situation in the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including in relation to violations of the right to life, liberty and security, freedom of movement, and further challenges in the context of the COVID pandemic,” the report reads.