Public Defender’s 2023 Human Rights Report

On April 2, the Public Defender of Georgia, Levan Ioseliani, released the 2023 annual parliamentary Report on the State of Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in Georgia. The report covers a wide range of human rights issues in Georgia and highlights major shortcomings that emerged or persisted during the reporting period.

According to the report, 4849 cases of human rights violations in Georgia were reported to the Public Defender’s Office during the past year, while the Office’s hotline received 17567 calls. The report says that Ombudsman monitored dozens of closed institutions, and held educational and informative meetings with the population of the regions, representatives of local authorities and thematic groups.

In addition, the PD Office has indicated that 79 recommendations/proposals have been forwarded to the competent authorities to address the violations identified in the report. Concurrently, 10 special reports and 3 alternative reports were drafted for submission to international bodies. Additionally, there were 3 constitutional complaints filed, 23 friend-of-the-court opinions drafted, and 3 communications sent to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The report also talks about the state of implementation of the proposals submitted to the Parliament and the President of Georgia in the 2022 Parliamentary Report, out of which one proposal submitted to the President has been fully implemented, while out of 63 proposals submitted to the legislative body, 47 have not been implemented, 4 have been partially implemented, and 12 have been fully implemented.

Occupied Territories

Among other issues, the report focuses on human rights violations in or near the occupied territories of Georgia. It reiterates that the killers of the Georgian citizens Tamaz Ginturi, Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria, Archil Tatunashvili and Irakli Kvaratskhelia have still not been prosecuted, placing the full responsibility on the Russian Federation.

The report also focuses on the following issues: illegal detention and mistreatment of Georgian citizens; illegal “borderization”; denial of education in the Georgian language to ethnic Georgians; the need for more government action to protect the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs); the situation of safety and health of women living near the occupation line, violence against women and domestic violence; lack of information on basic services.

Penitentiary System, Psychiatric Institutions

The report stresses that there has been no significant improvement in psychiatric institutions in penitentiary system. Patients continue to be victims of violence and the guarantees of their legal protection are neglected. It also noted that a number of restrictions imposed on beneficiaries may amount to ill-treatment. There is also a challenge with the usage of antipsychotic drugs and the management of side effects, as well as the establishment of uniform statistics on deceased patients.

As regards penitentiary institutions, the main challenges remain overcrowding, isolated cases of ill-treatment and informal governance. The Ombudsman notes the need to refine the existing parole practice and legal framework to establish uniform, predictable and clear grounds for who is eligible for statutory parole.

The report emphasizes that the effective functioning of the sentence review mechanism is crucial for life prisoners. The Ombudsman welcomed that, based on the positive commitment of the State, the life prisoners were given the opportunity to undergo a proper program, evaluation and reservation of appropriate conditions, rehabilitation, reduction of sentence or, in some cases, release. However, the report emphasizes that the program does not produce concrete results, and after the completion of the program, the court rejected the request for reduction of sentence or parole for most of the prisoners. The public defender believes that such an approach completely destroys any motivation in these people.

“With regard to the right to a fair trial, it is important to note that, despite numerous attempts to reform the judicial system, there are still gaps in the Georgian judicial system, both at the legislative and institutional level, the elimination of which is a necessary condition for Georgia on its way to EU membership,” – reads the report.

Social Issues

The report explores human rights violations of minority groups in Georgia, with a special focus on the LGBTQ+ community, ethnic and religious minorities, disabled people, the elderly, minors, displaced persons and refugees. “Regarding the challenges in the country towards the right to equality and the fight against discrimination, it is significant that no effective steps have been taken either in terms of policy documents or legislative regulation,” – noted the Public Defender’s Office.

The report also notes that challenges remain due to inadequate social housing and the lack of minimum standards for housing homeless people. Shortage of housing stock, lack of long-term accommodation and overcrowding exacerbate the problem. The report particularly notes the conditions in shelters in Kutaisi, Gori and Tbilisi (Orkhevi), Ozurgeti.

On the right to life, the report focuses on the femicide of 14-year-old Aitaj Shakhmarova: “The fact of Aitaj’s murder is not an isolated incident and is the result of existing gaps in prevention, repression, protection and assistance to victims. The incident reaffirms the need to strengthen work to eliminate traditions and harmful practices based on gender stereotypes and to protect against violence against women, violence against minors and child marriage.”

Freedom of Assembly, Media

According to the report, freedom of assembly remained a pressing concern in 2023. Gatherings of radical groups increased challenges to the right of peaceful assembly, with legislative initiatives restricting the form and content of assemblies. Disproportionate and sometimes unlawful measures were used to disperse assemblies, including administrative detention of participants.

In addition, obstacles to freedom of expression and of the press persisted, and the work of journalists was hampered by outdated legislation on access to information, which did not ensure the possibility of effective protection of this right.

Environmental Disasters

The Public Defender emphasizes the need for a thorough, competent and timely investigation into the tragic incident in Shovi, while ensuring institutional independence and impartiality. The report also highlights the basic human rights to live in a safe environment and to receive advance warnings of disasters, referring to both the Shovi and Guria cases.


Regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections, the report emphasizes: “The holding of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in a free, fair and peaceful environment is of particular importance for the democratic development of the country and its European integration”. The Public Defender hopes that, in contrast to the sad experiences of the past, both the pre-election period and the voting day will be free of human rights violations and that the electoral processes will enjoy a high level of public confidence.

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


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