Deputy Public Defender Participates in Ninth Meeting of EU-Georgia Human Rights Dialogue
On April 20, 2016, Deputy Public Defender Natia Katsitadze attended the ninth meeting of the Georgia-EU dialogue on human rights issues in Brussels, Belgium.
An open discussion was held at the meeting about the situation of human rights. A number of actual issues of Georgia, including elections, media freedom, minority rights, anti-discrimination policy, human rights situation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, as well as the situation of internally displaced persons and other issues were discussed at the meeting.
Within the framework of the dialogue, the Deputy Public Defender delivered a report on Georgia’s human rights situation, referred to both positive changes and problems that need result-oriented and immediate response. The Deputy Public Defender noted that significant positive reforms were carried out in the prison system; among them were improvement of health services and implementation of a suicide prevention program, which directly influenced the reduction of prisoners’ death rate; Last year the positive development was the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Code; except for few cases, there have not been facts of unjustified restrictions on the freedom of assembly and association, as well as on the freedom of speech and expression.
Natia Katsitadze spoke in detail about the process of implementation of the Law on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination; the number and the content of the cases studied by the Public Defender's Office. She also stressed the importance of rapid adoption of the proposed legislative changes by the Parliament, which will reinforce the Public Defender's mandate in his anti-discrimination work.
The Deputy Public Defender paid special attention to the challenges that are still unsolved in a number of ways, such as – documentation and investigation of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as hate crimes; short terms of retention of video recordings in prisons and police stations and restricted access of the Public Defender and the National Preventive Mechanism to the video tapes, which hampers the activities of the Public Defender; gaps in the justice system, which were clearly revealed last year during the formal appointment and promotion of judges by the High Council of Justice. In light of the positive event of separation of the State Security Service from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, she underlined the shortcomings in the newly created department, including the existence of the so-called "ODR" (a Russian abbreviation that stands for ‘Acting Reserve Officer’, a person inculcated into an institution and acting on behalf of the secret police). When talking about the violations of the rights of conflict affected population, she focused on the restriction on the right to get education in the mother tongue in the Gali district, which requires constant and effective response from Georgia and the international community.
Representatives of the European Commission, in turn, positively assessed the reforms carried out in Georgia and underlined the need to establish a labor inspection mechanism and an independent investigative mechanism, etc.