Public Defender’s Statement on International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances

The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances has been celebrated on August 30 since 2011. Enforced disappearance is a global problem and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted under the aegis of the UN in 2006 with the view of effectively combating this crime. As a result, enforced disappearance was declared an international crime and in some cases it can be assessed as a crime against humanity.

The problem of disappeared people in Georgia is related to the armed conflicts in the country. More than 1500 ethnic Georgians, about 200 ethnic Abkhazians and up to 100 ethnic Ossetians are regarded as disappeared after the conflicts of the 90s; six Ossetians and 35 Georgians have been missing after the 2008 war.

In order to fight against the crime of enforced disappearance, the Public Defender considers it necessary Georgia to ratify the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which has been his recommendation since 2013.

The Convention provides the definition of the crime of enforced disappearance and obliges member states to take appropriate measures to ensure that disappearance is a criminal offense at the national level. The Convention also provides for the obligation to conduct comprehensive and objective investigations by the states upon receiving relevant information and establishes the victim’s right to have information about the circumstances of disappearance and the fate of the disappeared person as well as the right to a timely, fair and adequate compensation.

Despite the fact that the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia is conducting investigations in relation to the persons disappeared during and after the August 2008 war, no essential results have been attained yet and whereabouts of the missing persons are not available. It is important the cases of disappearances to be investigated in a timely and effective manner.

In addition, the Public Defender hopes that the parties will continue to cooperate for the purpose of finding the disappeared persons, the successful examples of which were the opening of burials in Abkhazia as a result of an agreement reached between Tbilisi and Sokhumi in 2013-2015.

The Public Defender offers sympathy to the family members and relatives of the disappeared persons, pays tribute to their memory and urges the Georgian authorities to take effective steps for the investigation of the cases of disappearances and ratification of the UN Convention.

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