Public Defender's Statement on Quarantine Regime in Bolnisi and Marneuli Municipalities

In connection with the imposition of the special quarantine regime in response to the spread of the coronavirus in the municipalities of Bolnisi and Marneuli, the Public Defender's Office of Georgia and its Kvemo Kartli office are mobilized to provide consultations and legal assistance to the residents of these municipalities for 24 hours, including in the Azerbaijani and Armenian languages.

First of all, it should be noted that the quarantine regime was declared in the Marneuli and Bolnisi municipalities for a term of the state of emergency and implies a total ban on traffic for those who are not registered or do not actually reside in the municipalities. It is also forbidden to move within municipalities, except for the purpose of getting medical care or purchasing food.

The Public Defender's Office is in constant contact with local authorities, state agencies, organizations working in the region and the local population. According to the available information, the situation is calm in Bolnisi and Marneuli, although due to the lack of information in the Azerbaijani language, the population does not have detailed information on the imposed rules, disease prevention or the measures to be taken by them.

The Public Defender's Office receives phone calls from citizens about issues such as: the rule of the use of social programmes (the visit of a social worker, the visit of a social agent to assess the family situation); health care programmes (whether there are restrictions on TB, hepatitis C, dialysis, methadone programmes, children’s regular vaccination, etc.); whether they can move within the cities, go to shop, etc.

The Public Defender considers that medical programmes such as the dialysis, methadone, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and other programmes should not be hindered. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure safe movement of those using these programmes and to provide them with necessary supplies of medicines.

Provision of nformation to the population in a correct and understandable manner is of utmost importance for keeping them calm and addressing the situation on time. Therefore, it is especially important at this stage to provide information to the population in a language they understand. Inter alia, it is important to use communication tools such as the voice amplifier, remote distribution of information materials, translation of public statements, etc. It is recommended to involve all relevant agencies in this process.

Once again, we urge each person, whether within the quarantine or not, to adhere to the provisional recommendations aimed at infection prevention and control. We call on people in Marneuli and Bolnisi not try to leave the cities arbitrarily, not to endanger yourselves, your families and others, help health and law enforcement officials perform their duties effectively.

At the same time, I urge the population to refrain from making discriminatory and stigmatizing statements. The virus does not distinguish people according to ethnicity or any other characteristics. I call on journalists and officials to pay more attention to the principles of equality and to put emphasis against stereotypes.

I am firmly convinced that we can overcome this extremely difficult challenge only by standing together and caring for one another.

I would also like to remind the public that it you need assistance, you can call the Public Defender's hotline - 1481 - within 24 hours; for a consultation in the Azerbaijani language, contact the employee of the Public Defender’s Office, Murad Guseynov at: 591 70 10 73, or Andranik Baghdasaryan for a consultation in the Armenian language at: 595 80 78 44.

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