Georgia received 203 total recommendations from UN Member States during the 2nd Cycle of Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The country immediately agreed to and accepted 142 of these recommendations, requested time to contemplate 54 of them, and rejected 7 recommendations, all belonging to the Russian Federation.
The recommendations made to Georgia by UN Member States aim at improving the country’s human rights situation in various directions. Most of the recommendations emphasize the necessity for Georgia to strengthen its institutions, make greater efforts for combat discrimination, violence against women and early marriage, take stronger measures for protecting the rights of religious minorities and the LGBT community, strengthen the process of reforming the law enforcement and the judiciary and ensuring their independence and political neutrality, protect the rights of persons with disabilities, and so forth.
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), in partnership with other non-governmental organizations, has advocated the main recommendations for improving the human rights situation of vulnerable groups in Georgia by submitting shadow reports and taking part in pre-sessional hearings. It should be noted that most recommendations advocated by EMC and its partner organizations have been reflected in the recommendations made by UN Member States. Georgia has until March 2016 to show political will in relation to a number of strategically important recommendations.
The following is a brief overview of recommendations that were actively advocated by EMC.
- Improving the human rights situation of persons with disabilities
Georgia accepted 11 recommendations on protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. These recommendations include the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), harmonization of the national legislation with the standards of the Convention, deinstitutionalization of orphanages and development of alternative services, promoting education and employment of persons with disabilities, and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention.
- Improving the social policy, protecting the rights of especially vulnerable groups
The UN Member States made 5 recommendations on the measures necessary for protecting social rights. These include strengthening of national mechanisms for protecting social rights of vulnerable groups and improving access to health services.
In addition, Georgia also accepted recommendation of 4 countries to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
- Introducing effective enforcement mechanisms for the protection of worker’s rights
Germany recommended Georgia make greater effort to promote social dialogue, and introduce an effective labor inspection with enforcement powers in order to protect the economic rights of workers. Georgia has yet to accept this recommendation.
- Ensuring judicial independence and empowerment of judges
Georgia received recommendations to strengthen the judiciary’s independence, transparency and the right to counsel. Ireland made an important recommendation to fully revise the appointment, training, and official trips of judges. The Czech Republic also made an important recommendation to raise the awareness of the court system and law enforcement agencies on anti-discrimination legislation in order to improve its implementation.
Georgia has yet to accept an important recommendation made by Norway on the implementation of recommendations made by the Venice Commission on the appointment and probation of judges. Other recommendations in this regard include the elimination of shortcomings of the High Council of Justice, strengthening its transparency and accountability, and ensuring fairness of the judiciary, including through greater transparency of the procedure of distribution of cases.
Finally, Georgia is contemplating recommendations made by the US and Canada on ensuring the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies through their de-politicization.
- Efficient crime investigation and introduction of an independent investigation mechanism
Unfortunately, Georgia has yet to accept any recommendations on the introduction of an independent mechanism for effectively investigating violations committed by law enforcement agencies. Norway, the United Kingdom and Belgium, along with other countries, made important and specific recommendations in this regard.
- Strengthening the anti-discrimination policy and the Law on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
Georgia received 6 important recommendations from UN Member States aimed at strengthening the anti-discrimination policy and the Law on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination. The country accepted an important recommendation from the Czech Republic, according to which, better implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation requires the state to more actively inform the society and employees of the judiciary and law enforcement systems about this legislation, as well as strengthen the role of the Public Defender in this process.
The Georgian government has yet to accept two important recommendations from the governments of Sweden and Iceland on increasing the effectiveness of anti-discrimination mechanisms, namely:
The Swedish government recommended Georgia amend its Law on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination by granting the Public Defender the competence to issue fines and other sanctions on specific discrimination cases.
Iceland recommended Georgia introduce a monitoring mechanism that would check the enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation and action-oriented strategies.
- Protecting religious freedom and strengthening the general policy for combating religious intolerance
Georgia received 17 recommendations on the need to protect religious freedom, implement a policy of non-discrimination against religious minorities, and eliminate religious intolerance, pointing to the existence of serious problems in this regard. The recommendations emphasized the necessity for the state to take effective measures in order to promote religious tolerance and social inclusion of religious minorities, including the necessity to prosecute those individuals who persecute religious minorities. UN Member States paid separate attention to the necessity for the state to effectively combat hate speech and xenophobia. The importance of promoting participation and integration of religious minorities in the public life was also emphasized.
The Georgian government has yet to accept Italy’s recommendation, according to which, appropriate action must be taken against acts of intolerance towards religious minority groups, and solutions must be found to problems related to ownership and use of religious buildings and other property. The Georgian government has also not yet accepted a recommendation made by Armenia to continue the policy of compensating religious denominations for the material and moral damages suffered during the Soviet period.
- Promoting LGBT Rights
Georgia received 8 recommendations on protecting LGBT persons from violence and discrimination. A recommendation made by Brazil emphasizes the importance of state-supported public awareness campaigns for the purpose of combating discrimination, violence, and hate speech based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as social stigmatization of LGBT persons.
The Georgian government has yet to accept important recommendations made by Sweden, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, namely:
Sweden recommended Georgia establish a special police force that will work specifically on hate crime and closely cooperate with the LGBT community and organizations in order to create a relationship based on mutual trust.
The United Kingdom made a special recommendation to the Georgian government for combating hate crime. Specifically, the UK recommended Georgia adopt and implement a special strategy for monitoring, investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. For this purpose, the recommendation includes granting the Public Defender the power and the resources to take effective measures against hate crime instigators.
Uruguay recommended Georgia double its efforts to ensure the protection of the rights of LGBT persons, and effectively combat hate speech, discrimination, and social stigmatization of homosexuality, transsexuality and bisexuality, as well as violence motivated by hatred on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
At the national level, EMC and its partner organizations continue to advocate the recommendations made within the UPR framework.
EMC calls on the Georgian government to institutionalize communication between relevant government bodies and human rights organizations in order to ensure effective fulfillment of international commitments. For this purpose, the government must set up an effective and inclusive forum with the participation of the Public Defender, non-governmental organizations and other interested actors that will encourage effective monitoring of the implementation of recommendations accepted by the government.
EMC believes that effective fulfillment of international commitments requires the Georgian government transform received recommendations into relevant, tangible, and measurable actions, and reflect them in national strategies and action plans for promoting human rights.