Latin America & the Caribbean

The EU and Georgia held the 12th round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue in Tbilisi on 23 May 2019

Tbilisi, 23/05/2019 - 19:29, UNIQUE ID: 190523_16
Press releases

The EU and Georgia held the 12th round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue in Tbilisi on 23 May 2019. The dialogue allowed for an open, constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Georgia, on the country's commitment to achieving sustainable progress in this area and on the EU's commitments and policy framework for the promotion of Democracy and Human Rights.

The EU and Georgia welcomed the progress on human rights issues in Georgia, including in the context of the implementation of the Human Rights Strategy and its Action Plan, as well as the effective work of the Human Rights Protection and Quality Monitoring Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The EU reaffirmed its support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. The EU expressed concerns about the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, affecting in particular ethnic Georgians, especially with regards to ethnic discrimination, restriction of freedom of movement, property rights, and education in mother tongue, as well as about the persistent obstacles to the right of internally displaced persons and refugees to a safe and dignified return to their homes. The EU recalled that impunity surrounding the cases of Mr. Otkhozoria and Mr. Tatunashvili is unacceptable and reiterated its call for a transparent investigation into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Kvaratskhelia. Georgia underlined the importance of the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List as a preventive measure to avoid further grave violations of human rights on the ground. The EU and Georgia agreed on the urgent need of unhindered access of international human rights mechanisms, as well as the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) to both Georgian regions, and recalled that the Russian Federation has an obligation to implement the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement. The EU encouraged increasing efforts in addressing the fate of missing persons. The sides also highlighted the importance of the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms. The EU reiterated its support to the peace initiative "A Step to a Better Future", which offers opportunities to the populations living on both sides of dividing lines by facilitating trade, education and mobility and fostering people-to-people contacts and confidence building between the divided communities

The EU took note of the OSCE/ODIHR Electoral Observation Mission’s report on the October/November 2018 presidential elections and stressed the importance to address in a timely manner shortcomings identified such as: instances of misuse of administrative resources, cases of pressure on voters, negative campaigning and harsh rhetoric as well as the media sharp polarisation. Both sides agreed on the importance of maintaining a free and pluralistic media environment, and political pluralism as a prerequisite for the conduct of democratic elections. The EU encouraged Georgia to increase participation of women and national minority representatives in politics.

The EU encouraged Georgia to continue ensuring the effective implementation of its anti-discrimination law and praised the efforts on awareness raising on anti-discrimination due to the extensive training of civil servants and law enforcement officers. The EU welcomed the efforts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to identify and investigate hate crimes. The EU reiterated its encouragement to strengthen prevention of gender-based discrimination. The sides stressed their commitment to the universality of human rights for all, regardless of religion or belief, race, sex, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or other. The EU underlined the progress made by Georgia with regard to civic integration of persons belonging to minorities and encouraged the Government to continue taking steps in this regard. The EU encouraged the Government to further operationalise its human rights coordination mechanisms.

The EU welcomed initiatives taken by Georgia aimed at implementing commitments stemming from the Istanbul Convention and recognized efforts directed at preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence by strengthening national institutional capacities in support of issues related to gender equality and gender based violence. Both sides agreed on the need to further improve national institutional capacities in support of gender issues. In particular, the EU encouraged Georgia to continue enhancing measures to prevent, and investigate cases of violence against women and girls and protect the victims.The EU welcomed the recently adopted law on sexual harassment.

The EU welcomed the adoption of amendments enlarging the scope of the Law on Occupational Safety to all economic sectors and encouraged further efforts to ensure that the labour inspectorate is transformed into a full-fledged labour inspectorate. The EU encouraged Georgia to enhance its social dialogue and to continue to work closely with the International Labour Organisation. 

The EU noted progress in addressing the situation of vulnerable children and children in extreme poverty and invited the authorities to increase efforts to improve the situation of children living in poverty and to finalise the deinstitutionalisation process. 

The EU noted the considerable progress made by Georgia in preventing torture and ill-treatment, and stressed the need for this progress to be consolidated. The EU welcomed the reforms started at the penitentiary and crime prevention systems under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.  The EU also welcomed the set-up of the State Inspectorate for the investigation of alleged cases of violation of human rights and freedoms committed by representatives of law enforcement agencies and encouraged the allocation of sufficient resources for its proper operation.

The parties also agreed to continue and further develop their good cooperation on human rights related matters in multilateral fora, such as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe. The EU welcomed Georgia’s active engagement in the initiative “Good Human Rights Stories” that aims at promoting a positive narrative on human rights and sharing the best human rights practices and experiences. 

The EU and Georgia shared the view of the importance of concluding the investigation of Afghan Mukhtarli's case and the EU encouraged the continuation of ensuring a safe and secured environment for human rights defenders residing in Georgia. 

In line with its policy of consulting civil society ahead of its meetings on human rights, the EU met with representatives of Georgian and international NGOs prior to the dialogue as well as with representatives of international and regional organisations active in Georgia.

The Georgian delegation was headed by Mr. Vakhtang Makharoblishvili, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs while the EU delegation was led by Mr Richard Tibbels, Head of Division in the European External Action Service. The dialogue took place back-to-back with the Justice, Freedom and Security Subcommittee meeting on 22 May. The next Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and Georgia is scheduled to take place in Brussels in 2020.

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