Report by EU Special Adviser Thomas Hammarberg (09/07/2014)
PROGRESS AND CHALLENGES ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN GEORGIA
Report [159 KB] by EU Special Adviser Thomas Hammarberg
As I am now concluding my permanent task as EU Special Adviser on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights in Georgia I want to forward a number of recommendations to the Government and other institutions relevant for human rights in Georgia.
First, however, I would like to underline that significant improvement have been made in many of the human rights related areas, including, but not limited to: the adoption of the National Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan; increased judicial independence; improved election environment and separation of the State and party political interests (in contrast with past abuse of administrative resources); progress on protection of privacy; progress on prison conditions; adoption of the new labor legislation; adoption of the new anti-discrimination legislation; open and inclusive cooperation with the CSOs and free media.
However, there remain challenges in reforming and strengthening democratic institutions, among them the following: judicial independence remains fragile and responsibility of individual judges needs to be strengthened; law-enforcement institutions still require significant reform, including establishment of an effective and independent mechanism for investigation of the complaints against law enforcement officials; development of new legislation on surveillance has to be finalized and right to privacy ensured; frequency of inter-personal cases of violence, both political and domestic, require adequate response; cases of past abuses require effective and credible response.
Implementation of the labour code is also key: On top of setting up specific inspections on safety at work, there is the need to create an effective mechanism to oversee core labour standards. These issues are linked to the EU-GE DCFTA/AA and will in turn attract investors and business, who value legal and judicial security. Incipient social improvements need to be sustained, particularly focusing on vulnerable groups like IDPs, minorities, rural population, poor children, elderly or people with disability.
After the recent local elections there is a need of further improvements and clarifications of the electoral legislation. The interpretation of the two-year residence requirement provision has been problematic. The possibility of the municipal council to remove the directly elected majors with two thirds of the voting should be revoked.
The recommendations below can be seen as a listing of steps required to follow through on my report from September 2013 Georgia in Transition [483 KB] . They have been shared with the Prime Minister and other ministers before now being made public. The publishing of them is made in the interest of transparency and in order to assist constructive discussions. They are themselves the result of many serious and forward looking exchanges with the Prime Minister, the President, Ministers, Oppositions representatives, Prosecutors, Judges, the Public Defender and his team, the Data Protection Inspector and not least representatives of Georgia's impressive civil society.