Amnesty International, a London-based international human rights organization, calls on Russia and de facto authorities in occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, to reopen crossing points and guarantee freedom of movement of civilians.
In a statement released on November 22, Amnesty International said that “the complete ban on movement” between the occupied region and Georgia proper, “is undermining the human rights of local civilians.”
According to the statement, the closure of the crossing points in early September, has worsened the humanitarian situation in the occupied region, as its residents have been denied “access to medical care, social security benefits, education and family visits” across the occupation line.
“According to the information available to Amnesty International, the closure of the crossing points has particularly negatively affected older people, schoolchildren and university students and those in need of medical care,” the statement reads.
It further notes that “under international human rights law freedom of movement can only be restricted to pursue certain legitimate objectives, must be consistent with other human rights and be a proportionate response.”
However, in case of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, “while national security or public order grounds of this measure are in question, the complete ban enacted since September is a disproportionate response.”
Tskhinvali noted that the crossing points will be opened as soon as “the situation returns back to normal.” Since late August, representatives of Tskhinvali, Moscow and Tbilisi held seven technical meetings to discuss the issue of disputed police checkpoint, but failed to reach any progress.
Odzisi crossing point, serving occupied Akhalgori Municipality, half of which are ethnic Georgians, has been closed since early September too. According to the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), in normal days, Odzisi crossing point serves 400 persons daily.
On October 28, Margo Martiashvili, who was transferred from Ikoti village of Akhalgori Municipality to Tskhinvali for medical treatment, died in the hospital after allegedly suffering from a stroke. The emergency vehicle from Tskhinvali had to travel three hours, whereas it would have taken just 45 minutes to reach Tbilisi.
In its statement, Amnesty International also refers to recent detention and sentencing of a Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili in occupied Tskhinvali, saying “such detentions are arbitrary and constitute violations of the right to liberty and security of the person, contrary to Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
“In these circumstances both Russia and the de facto authorities must ensure that Vazha Gaprindashvili is immediately released from the detention and compensated for the harm he has suffered as a result,” Amnesty International said, adding that “they must also ensure that no-one is subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in the territory under their control.”