CoE Issues 27th Consolidated Report on Georgia

The 27th Consolidated Report on the Conflict in Georgia by Secretary General of the Council on Europe published on April 19 states there are serious concerns regarding the human rights situation in the areas affected by the armed conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia in 2008. The bi-annual report, presented by Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić to the Committee of Ministers and covering the period November 2003-March 2023 highlights the lack of progress on the key issues concerning human rights and humanitarian situation in the conflict-affected areas of Georgia. The report reflects the persistence of various restrictions on freedom of movement, as well as persisting problems with access to education and healthcare.

The report notes Georgia’s continuous efforts and initiatives aimed at promoting reconciliation and dialogue, as well as the efforts toward the provision of free access to healthcare, and other social benefits for residents of the occupied regions of Georgia. The report also notes the efforts to address the needs of internally displaced persons.

The report states that CoE Delegation was informed of the continuation of illegal so-called “borderization” activities during the period under review, including the extension of fences, the installation of new surveillance equipment, and increased monitoring around “crossing points”.

The delegation (CoE fact-finding mission) was in particular informed that no progress had been achieved on the investigation demanded by the Georgian authorities into the deaths of Giga Otkhozoria, David Basharuli and Archil Tatunashvili, nor regarding the deaths of Irakli Kvaratskhelia and Inal Jabiev.

The Georgian authorities continued to express concern about the state of monuments of cultural, historical and religious heritage located in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, some of which were reported to have suffered irreversible damage.

The report notes that the CoE delegation was informed that the elaboration of the “State Strategy for De-Occupation and Peaceful Conflict Resolution” and the strategic review of the 2010 Engagement Strategy and its Action Plan were ongoing, “with the deadlines postponed in light of the volatile security situation in the wider region, stemming from the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine”.

Secretary General stresses that continuing her periodic reporting to the Committee of Ministers on the conflict in Georgia will remain a high priority.

Situation in Abkhazia

The report notes that the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) remains suspended. No IPRM meetings were held during the period under review. The importance of resuming them has been stressed by international actors and the Georgian Government. The EUMM-facilitated hotline continues to operate.

The report says that the delegation was informed that illegal so-called “borderization” activities have continued during the period under review, including the extension of fences, the installation of new surveillance equipment, and increased monitoring around “crossing points”.

The Georgian authorities conveyed to the delegation that the requirement for so-called “resident permits” for persons living in Gali continued to have had implications on freedom of movement for the populations who wish to cross to the Georgian controlled territory.

The Georgian authorities informed that illegal detentions have persisted, with the identification of eight illegally detained persons during the reporting period.

The Georgian Government updated the delegation on the health situation of Irakli Bebua, who was illegally sentenced to a nine-year imprisonment in December 2020 reiterated the need for his immediate release. The delegation was also updated on the illegal detention of Kristine Takalandze for so-called “espionage” charges since 20 July 2022, and the illegal detentions of Asmat Tavadze in November 2022, and of Eka Jakonia.

Urgent medical evacuations have remained available during this period. The Georgian Government ensured that the patients concerned were immediately transported to hospitals in the Georgian controlled territory. Immunization programmes for routine vaccinations were continued during the reporting period. The delegation was informed by the Georgian Government that 1 400 persons from Abkhazia, Georgia, accessed healthcare in Tbilisi-controlled territory in 2022.

The report notes that delegation was informed by Georgian authorities that the “agreement” on the settlement of issues of “dual citizenship” with the Russian Federation of September 2022, which would facilitate the acquisition of Russian citizenship without giving up a so-called Abkhaz “passport”, had been “ratified” in Abkhazia, Georgia on 29 December 2022.

As for the access to education, the situation of education in the Georgian language in schools in Abkhazia, Georgia, saw no progress in the provision of access to education in the native language reported. To recall, education in the Georgian language has been banned not only at schools but also at kindergartens in the Georgian region of Abkhazia.

Situation in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia

Security observers informed the delegation that although no further incursions had been reported in the Chorchana-Tsnelisi section of the ABL during the period under review, the situation nevertheless remained unresolved and conducive to tensions. The presence of military equipment on site represented a serious danger for stability, it was stressed.

During the reporting period, three IPRM meetings were held in Ergneti. In the 111th IPRM of March 2023, the co-facilitators took note of the release of two detainees and urged a humanitarian approach towards the resolution of existing detention cases.

During the period under review, the Georgian Government informed the delegation of instances of illegal “borderization” at several locations. This activity included the installation/reinforcement of observation posts, as well as new fencing and so-called “border signs”.

As for the freedom of movement, the temporary openings of “crossing points” during the last 10 days of each month, previously announced to run until December 2022, continued throughout the reporting period. The delegation was informed by the Georgian authorities that “the use of the “crossing points” was restricted to groups of persons living adjacent to the ABL”. The Ergneti “crossing point” continued to be used on an ad hoc basis for medical evacuations and urgent cases, but impediments to medical evacuations persisted. Particular alarm was noted by the Georgian authorities concerning delays in evacuation procedures that in one incident prevented timely medical treatment for an infant who died on 3 January 2023.

Incidents of illegal detentions were reported as continuing through the reporting period, with 10 cases reported according to the Georgian government (6 cases are ongoing).

As for the humanitarian situation, no positive trends were reported concerning the humanitarian situation in the region, especially in the Akhalgori district, where the delegation was informed by the Georgian authorities and international community of particularly dire socio-economic circumstances. Negative impacts from the extended closure of “crossing points” were reported to have continued to limit the entry of goods and food products, in addition to having hampered people’s access to pensions and other social benefits they are entitled to in the Georgian controlled territory.

Georgian authorities informed the delegation that “permission documents” for accessing “crossing points” for the ethnic Georgian population in Akhalgori remains of concern, as it creates additional obstacles to the freedom of movement.

No progress has been reported during the reporting period regarding the situation of education in the Georgian language in schools in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia. Previously expressed concerns about restrictions on access to education in the native language persist.

During the period under review, no progress could be reported as regards the voluntary, safe, dignified and unhindered return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees on the basis of internationally recognized principles.

In the absence of conditions for their return, the delegation was informed that the Georgian Government continued to provide IDPs with alternative durable solutions and that to date, over 290 000 persons, constituting more than 91 000 IDP families, have been granted IDP status.

Consolidated reports on the conflict in Georgia have been prepared by the Secretary General since 2010, following a Committee of Ministers decision. The current report is based, inter alia, on the results of the fact-finding visit to Tbilisi on 13-14 February 2023. The delegation also had the possibility to observe the situation at the Administrative Boundary Line.

The current Consolidated report examines, inter alia, the implementation of the European Court’s judgments in the two inter-state cases “Georgia v. Russia (II)”, concerning the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in 2008 and its consequences, and “Georgia v. Russia” (I)” concerning arrests, detentions and expulsions from the Russian Federation of Georgian nationals in 2006-2007.

Notably, today the European Court of Human Rights has delivered a ruling on the inter-state application “Georgia v. Russia (IV)”, lodged by the Government of Georgia in August 2018, which concerns the alleged deterioration of the human rights situation along the administrative boundary lines between Georgian-controlled territory and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to the ruling the case is declared admissible.

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


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