The U.S. Department of State’s “2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” has prompted responses from Georgia’s ruling and opposition parties regarding the country’s handling of human rights issues.
Comments from the Ruling Party
Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili criticized the report, stating, “I briefly reviewed the report and its main points. It is regrettable that the State Department’s report relies on non-objective, biased, subjective, and unfair conclusions prepared by so-called elite non-governmental organizations.”
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Irakli Kobakhidze, the leader of the “Georgian Dream” party, concurred with the Prime Minister’s remarks, adding that information was obtained from certain organizations, which are the agents of foreign influence. He stated that “the content of the US State Department report and the statements made by NGOs are nearly identical, making it difficult to differentiate between them. This is our overall position.” He said that he would carefully examine the report and consider any objections based on factual evidence, but also added that there might be the possibility of unfounded criticisms.
Mamuka Mdinaradze, the chairman of the “Georgian Dream,” pointed out that “the radical opposition and other internal forces in Georgia are striving to have their quotations included in the State Department’s report.” He focused on the LGBT issues highlighted in the document, stressing the the importance of protecting the rights of all groups, while also exposing those who employ LGBT propaganda to criticize the government in their reports. “I remember how Georgian society reacted when, in parallel the European future task, we added to the constitution that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. This reflects the order of Georgian society. With this in mind, we should distinguish between LGBT propaganda and the protection of their rights,” he said.
Comments from the Opposition Parties
Salome Samadashvili, a member of the opposition party “Lelo,” stated that “the reports issued by the U.S. State Department are getting harsher every year, and the 2022 report appears to be a verdict on the “Georgian Dream” government.” Although the document covers various issues, she highlighted the 12 recommendations of the European Commission and the areas where the EU expects progress. According to her, the report clearly shows regression, rather than progress in judicial reform, anti-corruption efforts, and human rights protection. She also highlighted the report’s concern for the protection of a free media, which she described as being in worrying decline.
Teona Akubardia, a member of the political group “Reform Group”, also reacted to the report: “The main task of the State Department’s report is to highlight and address the challenges that the country has faced in terms of human rights protection. The events that are mentioned in this report are the organized aggressive violence of July 5-6, which was not properly investigated, as well as the cases of Nika Gvaramia and Mikheil Saakashvili, the kidnapping of Afgan Mukhtarli and the events of July 2019, as well as the cancellation of the State Inspector’s Office. Thus, it objectively describes all the challenges that the country has faced in the protection of human rights”
Paata Manjgaladze, a member of the opposition party “Strategy Aghmashenebeli“, commented that “the situation is much more serious than what is discussed in this report… This report did not include the fact that the “Georgian Dream” was going to adopt the Russian law… The arrest of Nika Gvaramia, the media manager, as well as the punitive measures taken against the owner of the TV company “Formula” indicate that the “Georgian Dream” has become autocratic and is trying to bring Georgia closer to Russia instead of Europe.”
Beqa Liluashvili, a member of the party “For Georgia”, stressed that “unfortunately, our partners’ assessments will even be harsher, because “Georgian Dream” has literally left zero means to talk with our partners. It has exhausted all possible political space to create a positive agenda.”
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