Georgia presented its national report to the UN Human Rights Council session for the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, covering a five-year period of the country’s efforts towards improving the human rights situation.
At the January 26 session, Deputy Foreign minister Khatuna Totladze, head of the Georgian inter-agency delegation, listed key achievements, including constitutional amendments, the establishment of State Inspector’s Service, ratification of the Istanbul Convention, adoption of the Code on the Rights of the Child and the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, introducing gender quotas in the Parliament and judicial reforms.
Representatives of 105 Member States participated in the Council session to review Georgia’s document and provide recommendations.
All recommendations will be reflected in the final document, set to be adopted by the Council on January 29. Georgia will then, by June, present its position on which suggestions it will take up.
U.S. Mission in Geneva representative, Charles Bentley recommended Georgia to enhance public confidence in the integrity of electoral processes by fully implement OSCE/ODIHR recommendations and reforming election-related institutions, in cooperation with opposition parties, civil society and other stakeholders.
He further suggested the country should “strengthen respect for rule of law by fostering judicial independence through reforms to empower individual judges and prevent informal governance by an influential group of judges known as the “clan,” by depoliticizing the justice system, and by merit-based appointments.”
The authorities should credibly investigate the 2017 abduction and rendition of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli and hold to account those responsible, the U.S. representative added.
Implementation and protection of LGBT rights was a common recommendation, including by the UK, Canada and Australia, while Sweden recommended the country to take further steps towards protecting without discrimination domestic violence victims. Sweden also called for ensuring rights of freedom of association, trade unions, as well as labor rights.
Russian representative insisted that Georgia attempted to divert attention from its human rights shortcomings by “unlawfully” including Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Regions/South Ossetia in the report.
As part of the lengthy UPR cycle, Georgian civil society and Public Defender’s pursued an advocacy campaign, aimed at providing recommendations to international partners and diplomatic corps. The group addressed multiple issues, including rights to sexual and reproductive health, socio-economic rights, rights of ethnic and religious minorities, prisoners, women, LGBTQ people, children, religious freedom and migrant rights, as well as judicial independence.