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Georgian CSOs Release 2022 Human Rights Reports

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), and the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI) have published their separate 2022 Human Rights reports, delving into a number of issues, including the independence of the judiciary, worsening press freedoms, and continued discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Judicial Independence

In reference to the judiciary, the watchdogs pointed to a worsening situation and growing “clan rule” in the High Council of Justice (HCoJ) as the main problem facing the Courts.

In particular, the GDI took note of the amendments to the Law on Common Courts which weakened the independence of individual judges, while also highlighting the appointment of new members to the HCoJ which reinforced clan rule.

According to GDI’s assessment of the judiciary, given the “alarmingly low level of judicial independence,” the “politically motivated” cases of Nika Gvaramia, Davit Kezerashvili, and Mikheil Saakashvili are not surprising.

Meanwhile, GYLA pointed to the Venice Commission’s conclusion that “persistent and widespread allegations of corporatism and self-interest against the Council could undermine public confidence in the judiciary,” while also emphasizing that the ruling political power “has not shown the necessary will for real and transformative changes.”

The organization also accentuated that judicial reforms are a key part of the European Commission’s 12 recommendations for Georgia to attain EU candidate status and pointed out that it joined the working group on judicial reforms at the beginning to present a list of the fundamental problems facing the Courts. GYLA noted that changes were initiated by the working group to that end in November 2022 but lamented that based on the draft’s contents, it will not fulfill the EU’s recommendations because it “leaves unaddressed all important problems in the court.”

Notably, GDI pointed out in relation to overall government efforts aimed at attaining candidacy, that while authorities have taken some steps, they “are insufficient,” especially when it comes to the judicial and electoral reforms strategy, the de-oligarchization draft law, and plans for establishing the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Press Freedoms

The watchdogs also brought attention to worsening press freedoms in 2022 and highlighted the “politically motivated” case against Gvaramia as a prominent example.

GDI noted that the “harassment and pressure” on critical media and journalists continued in 2022 and became “even more systematic.” In that context, they underscored that there has been a “noticeable and growing trend” of so-called defamation lawsuits against critical media started by government officials or persons related to them.

It likewise remarked that decisions made by the Georgian National Communications Commission against the media in 2022 have “hindered” their activities. In that context, GDI warned against the planned changes to the Law on Broadcasting, which will expand the Commission’s mandate.

Meanwhile, GYLA stressed that in connection to press freedoms, the past year has been “characterized by backward steps.” “At the same time, the state, by initiating new legal regulations, poses the risk of unjustified restriction of freedom of expression and the danger of worsening the media environment in the country,” GYLA posited.

In the context of media safety, GYLA also pointed out that journalists continued to be physically and verbally assaulted in 2022, adding that in parallel, the “state did not ensure a proper investigation of the perpetrators and organizers of the violence of the July 5-6 events.”

LGBTQ Rights

In terms of LGBTQ rights, GDI noted that the community is still “unable” to enjoy the right to freedom of expression and assembly in public space amid continued threats from far-right groups and “homophobic rhetoric” from the government. GDI lamented that such challenges are not addressed in the 2022-2030 National Human Rights Strategy developed by the government.

GYLA reported that the LGBTQ community continues to experience discrimination in education, work, health, and social services, especially “due to the lack of enforcement of existing legal norms.” They further noted that the community is particularly vulnerable to stigma and violence and that they continue to experience oppression as a result of the “increasing number and influence of homophobic and transphobic groups.”

GYLA also highlighted the importance of the government fulfilling the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) which ruled in favor of three transgender men in their case against Georgia and agreed that Article 8 – right to respect for private and family life – of the European Convention on Human Rights was violated.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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