Georgia in U.S. State Department 2023 Human Rights Report

The U.S. Department of State has released its yearly human rights report on Georgia highlighting “significant” human rights issues in the country, including “torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary, along with investigations and prosecutions widely considered to be politically motivated.” Notably, the 2023 Human Rights report identifies “serious government corruption” as one of the “significant human rights issues” that was not included in the previous report.

The U.S State Department highly critical report also underlines “the arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including violence and threats of violence against journalists;” as well as “substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association” and “crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting LGBTQ+ community.”

The report notes that impunity in Georgia remained a problem, despite the fact that the authorities “took steps to investigate some officials for human rights abuses.”

Speaking of the occupation of Georgian territories by Russia, the report notes that the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia remained outside of Tbilisi control with the de-facto authorities being supported by the Russian forces.

In addition, the report notes that the Russian and the de-facto authorities committed abuses with impunity in the occupied territories, and the significant human rights issues included “unlawful killings; arbitrary arrest or detention; restrictions on freedom of movement, especially of ethnic Georgians; and restrictions on the ability of ethnic Georgians to own property or register businesses and to receive education in their native language.”

Freedom of Expression and Media Environment

According to the report, in 2023 the NGOs, international community and journalists themselves raised “serious concerns” regarding the Georgian government’s respect for freedom of expression, including due to the imprisonment of Nika Gvaramia, founder of the opposition-minded Mtavari TV, who was eventually pardoned by the President.

Among other concerns were have been the worsening of environment and legislation for media pluralism, the Foreign Agents Law, violence and threats of violence against journalists, lack of accountability for violence committed against journalists in connection with the 2021 July Pride event. “Other concerns included restrictions on access to information and funding sources, and fines on media outlets.” Citing the Public Defender’s Office (PDO), the report also mentions “the country’s lack of proper statistics on offenses committed against journalists impeded awareness of the scale of the problem.”

As per the PDO and civil society, the country faced the inconsistent application of laws regarding “obscene language” with “several opposition-affiliated persons were convicted of posting obscene videos on social media, but similar language from the ruling party was not reprimanded.”

The report also mentions the alleged illegal surveillance of journalists, and cites the PDO according to which nobody was held accountable for the alleged surveillance of the opposition-minded Mtavari TV journalists. According to the NGOs, previous investigations of the same offence against journalists are still pending.

As for the freedom of expression, the report highlights new restrictions imposed by Speaker Papuashvili regarding the press accreditation in the legislative. Lack of due process in the application of the regulations have been reported, with the the NGO Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics (GCJE) and the PDO finding it “problematic that only critical media outlets were sanctioned under the new rule.”

Among numerous other problems, the report also mentions that “media watchdogs expressed concern that the legal battles between the Ministry of Defense and Formula TV founder and former Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili were aimed at eliminating the critical television station.”

Harassment and Violence against Journalists

As for the harassment of and violence against journalists, “there were reports of violent physical attacks, threats of violence, harassment, and defamation lawsuits against journalists throughout the year. There was also a lack of accountability in such cases.”

In this context, the report mentions the attack against TV Formula anchor and shareholder Misha Mshvildadze, use of tear gas, physical and verbal abuse by police against journalists during the March protests against the Foreign Agents Law, threats of violence against journalist Gela Mtivlishvili. There have also been reports of far-right attacks on journalists.


As for the concerns regarding censorship, the report touches upon the NGO’s concern over the “close relationship” between GD, the Public Broadcaster and the Communications Commission. “Media Advocacy Coalition critically assessed the law adopted in October, which increased the Georgian National Communications Commission’s mandate to investigate and fine media organizations in cases of obscenity or hate speech.”

Speaking of the internet freedom, while the government did not restrict it, the concerns over the unauthorized online surveillance remained.

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly/Association

According to the U.S. State Department, the Georgian authorities restricted freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. In this context, the report notes despite the law providing for freedom of assembly, “human rights organizations expressed concern, however, regarding provisions in the law, including the requirement that political parties and other organizations give five days’ notice to local authorities to assemble in a public area, thereby precluding spontaneous demonstrations.”

“The PDO and NGOs reported that authorities often used disproportionate force when managing and breaking up rallies and used the administrative code to detain demonstrators,” the State Department notes. Among other examples, the report notes that “the ECHR found several violations of the right to peaceful assembly based on the government’s nonproportional interference, arbitrary arrest of peaceful protesters, or sanctioning of demonstrators.”

As for the freedom of association, there were reports about pressuring by the ruling party of “the selected political opposition figures.” As per the report, the CSOs were also pressurized. In this context, the State Department mentions the example of the Georgian State Security Service accusing the CSO CANVAS of organizing a coup in Georgia and releasing of a video as “evidence.” The report cites the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders according to whom “the presentation of the video as evidence of a conspiracy strongly indicates a deliberate attempt by the SSSG to criminalize the human rights defenders involved and delegitimize the exercise of fundamental rights, and particularly young people and students exercising their right to peaceful protests, in the public eye.”

Political Participation

The State Department say that there were several incidents of violence against the opposition, including the two attacks on the Girchi-More Freedom leader Zurab Girchi Japaridze during the 2023 March protests against the Foreign Agents Law. “The latter attack was followed a few hours later by another violent incident in which a mob threw rocks at a hotel where an institute affiliated with the party was conducting a summer youth-training camp.” None of the perpetrators have been persecuted.

“Opposition parties reported an uneven playing field due to lack of finances and obstacles to fundraising, the ruling party’s control of administrative resources, and deep polarization – including pressure and intimidation – as main obstacles to political participation,” the report adds.


Speaking of the denial of fair public trial, the report highlights that “although the constitution and law provided for an independent judiciary, the government did not respect judicial independence and impartiality in politically sensitive cases,” with the judges being “vulnerable to political pressure” from both within and outside the judicial system.

Concerns about the independence of the judiciary continued last year. The PDO, civil society and international community “highlighted problems, including the influence of a group of judges primarily consisting of High Council of Justice (HCOJ) members and court chairs that allegedly stifled critical opinions within the judiciary and obstructed proposals to strengthen judicial independence. NGOs referred to this group of influential, well-connected, and nonreformist judges as the “clan.””


“The law provided criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally did not implement the law effectively. There were reports of high-level government corruption,” the report notes.

According to the State Department, on November 3, 2023, the local watchdog TI-Georgia listed 151 uninvestigated cases of alleged corruption involving the high ranking officials or individuals associated with the ruling Georgian Dream. “As of September, 99 public servants were charged with corruption.

The report cites NGOs according to whom no effective mechanisms were in place in state-owned enterprises and independent regulatory bodies to prevent corruption, and adds that the civil society “continued to call for an independent anti-corruption agency outside the authority of the SSSG, alleging its officials were abusing its functions.”

Arbitrary Killings

“There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings,” the report notes.

The State Department mentions the killing of Georgian citizen Tamaz Ginturi by the Russian occupying forces, and severe beating by the occupied Abkhazia’s de-facto police and subsequent death of another Georgian citizen Temur Karbaia.

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