Public Defender’s Statement on Living Conditions in So-called Veterans’ Settlement of Tbilisi
The Public Defender is responding to an incident that took place in the veterans’ settlement on Ketevan Tsamebuli Steet on 14 July, Tbilisi, and calls on the Government to take timely and effective steps, as lives of people living there are in a real danger.
War and military veterans have been living on 71 Ketevan Tsamebuli Steet in Tbilisi by the oral permission of the Ministry of Defense since 1997. The mentioned territory and buildings were moved from the management of the Ministry of Defense to the Ministry of Economy in 2008. The latter sold them to Jsc. Real Invest based on a purchase agreement signed in the name of the Ltd. State Provision. According to the agreement signed on 20 May 2008, the buyer is aware that outsiders live on the territory and the seller is not responsible for eliminating this defect. In total, 14 families of war and military veterans live in the area. The buildings are damaged and at risk of destruction. They get wet during raining; the wooden cottage is in a particular danger and poses threat to life and health of people living there.
A veteran of the Abkhazian war, M.Sh., together with his son, the veteran of the 2008 war, S.G., has been living in one of the apartments in the cottage by the permission of the Ministry of Defense since 1997.
On July 14, part of a ceiling and a wood-plank wall (dividing the room from the neighbor’s apartment) collapsed in the living room of M.Sh., who was in the room at that moment. He received injuries to the head and suffered mild brain concussion. The victim was taken to a hospital by an emergency team, which rendered him necessary medical assistance.
M.Sh. and S.G. still live in the mentioned building as they do not have anywhere to go. The Public Defender's representative visited their room and saw that the large part of the ceiling was collapsed, wooden floor was broken, plank walls were damaged and there was a danger that the ceiling would completely collapse.
The above case once again convinced us that the situation in the veterans’ settlement is deplorable and needs immediate and effective response. The Government should take steps to provide shelter to people living there in order to avoid more serious consequences.
The unbearable situation of veterans of the mentioned settlement was described in detail in the 2015 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender and the Government was recommended to provide alternative housing to the veterans living on 71 Ketevan Tsamebuli Street; However, the recommendation was not included in the Parliament’s resolution concerning the Public Defender’s report on the situation of human rights and freedoms in Georgia in 2015.
As per the Georgian legislation, the only guarantee of providing housing for military and war veterans is the law of Georgia on war and military veterans, which states that it is unacceptable to evict war and military veterans from their occupied office houses without providing them alternative housing.
In other case, war and military veterans are put in a category of homeless people, without any special status.
The right to adequate housing is one of the fundamental values in the international human rights law and is protected by international treaties. Based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states recognize that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services1. In addition, the right to housing is enshrined in the United Nations Covenant on social, economic and cultural rights that was adopted in 1966. In accordance with the relevant commitment, states shall develop a strategy and care for effective elimination of the problem of homelessness in a short period of time.
It must be important for the state to provide social guarantees for military and war veterans and not to leave them without attention, as it's important for streghten the country's defense capabilities.
People, who were involved in the fight for the integrity of the country, deserve worthy treatment and care from the Government, which would be an example for current and future military servants and war participants.
1 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, article 25, para. 1.