On February 25, Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani delivered a statement at the high-level segment of the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva on February 25-March 22.
Zalkaliani underlined in his address that human rights protection is “one of the top priorities” of Georgia’s national agenda. “Reforms carried out in recent years have aimed at ensuring independence of judiciary, strengthening institutional independence of the prosecution agencies and implementation of comprehensive legal and structural reforms in the penitentiary system,” he stated.
Zalkaliani also spoke on Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, saying it is regrettable that international and regional human rights mechanisms have been denied access to the regions, and that human rights and humanitarian situation in the regions is “continuously deteriorating.”
“Illegal detentions and kidnappings along the occupation line, intensified ethnically targeted human rights violations, deprivation of the right of life, prohibition of education in native Georgian language, restriction of rights of freedom of movement, residence and property, illegally erected razor wire and other artificial obstacles along the occupation line continue to affect the everyday life of the local population,” Zalkaliani noted in his remarks.
The Minister also underlined that perpetrators standing behind the murders of Archil Tatunashvili, Giga Otkhozoria and Davit Basharuli, “have not been brought to justice,” and called on the member states to support the Georgian government’s Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili blacklist, “to end impunity and prevent further human rights violations” in the two regions.
“Despite many efforts by Georgia and international community, hundreds of thousands of ethnically cleansed, internally displaced persons and refugees continue to be deprived of the right to safe and dignified return to their homes,” Zalkaliani also noted, adding that the aggravated humanitarian and human rights situation in the occupied regions “poses an imminent threat of the new wave of forced displacement.”
The Minister then called on the Russian Federation to fulfill its obligations under the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, pull out its troops from Georgia and allow unhindered and immediate access of international human rights mechanisms to the occupied regions.