Georgia in the Human Rights Watch report
Human Rights Watch report 2019: A brighter future for human rights? | DW News
In the annual&# 160; report&# 160; on the human rights situation in the world,&# 160; authoritative&# 160; an international organization drew attention to the problems of becoming&# 160; democracy in Georgia&# 160;
Lack of accountability of Georgian law enforcement officers, threats to media freedom, disproportionately strict drug policy and discrimination against the LGBT community are problematic issues in Georgia. This is stated in the annual report on the situation with human rights, released by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The section of the report on Georgia also dealt with the 2020 parliamentary elections, which, according to international observers, although held in a competitive environment, were overshadowed by “widespread accusations of pressure on voters.” The report also cites an assessment by local NGOs who called the October elections “the least democratic and free” of those held under the Georgian Dream government. As human rights activists from HRW note, the election results, which the opposition does not recognize, caused political tension in the country..
At the same time, the authors of the report note positive shifts in terms of protecting the labor rights of citizens, pointing out that the Georgian parliament in 2020 supported the implementation of labor law reform in the country..
“The devastating effects of the pandemic”
According to the HRW report, as a result of strict measures taken to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection COVID-19, the Georgian authorities managed to maintain a low infection rate in the country in the first months. At the same time, the impact of the pandemic on the Georgian economy, which decreased by 16 percent in the second quarter of 2020, turned out to be “devastating”.
In order to provide assistance to citizens and businesses affected by the pandemic, the Georgian authorities in April developed a US $ 1.5 billion anti-crisis plan, which was to cover a period of 6 months. Nevertheless, according to the report, three months before the parliamentary elections, the authorities announced additional anti-crisis measures in the amount of 132 million US dollars. These measures also included packages of social assistance to citizens. The move was interpreted by the opposition and some NGOs as “an action to attract voters.”.
The HRW report also notes the fact that in light of the pandemic, the Georgian parliament adopted legislative amendments allowing the authorities to restrict certain rights of citizens (property, economic and labor rights, as well as rights related to freedom of movement and assembly) without declaring a state of emergency..
“Human rights groups in Georgia have noted that the granting of extensive state powers without parliamentary oversight is contrary to the Constitution,” the authors of the report write..
Reaction in Tbilisi
Georgian authorities criticized local NGOs for being “unprofessional”, pointing out that their assessment was used by HRW in their report when referring to the 2020 Georgian parliamentary elections.
According to Shalva Papuashvili, a deputy from the ruling Georgian Dream, after the parliamentary elections, twenty-four Georgian NGOs issued a joint statement on November 4, which listed five points – essentially the claims of the nongovernmental sector regarding the elections, although later, Papuashvili claims, that all these claims were “unsubstantiated”.
“Georgian NGOs have made a great contribution to the development of Georgian democracy, which is sometimes even more ambitious than the contribution of a number of politicians. That is why the requirements for them are appropriate. It is necessary to be adequate, conclusions must be based on facts, ”said the MP, who called on NGOs to reconsider their initial statement and amend it based on the events that took place after November 4.
It is noteworthy that one of the arguments of the Georgian NGOs regarding the falsification of the elections was based on the results of a parallel vote count conducted by the non-governmental organization “Fair Elections”, which did not coincide with the results of the Central Election Commission. Although after about a month this NGO admitted that it had made a mistake in its calculations, and after correcting the data, it turned out that they coincided with the data of the CEC. Nevertheless, before resigning, Chairwoman of the “Fair Elections” Elene Nizharadze said that despite the mistake made, this NGO still had “a lot of questions about the election campaign,“ carousels ”on election day and other violations.” sides of the authorities.
“They did not want to answer all these questions, and it was they, the ruling party and the administration of the elections that caused and then exacerbated the political crisis in the country,” Nizharadze said at the time..
It is noteworthy that the majority of opposition deputies to this day boycott the new parliament, although in connection with this issue, negotiations continue between representatives of the government and the opposition through the mediation of the US and EU ambassadors..
As a reminder, according to the results of the October 31 elections, Georgian Dream, which has had a majority in parliament since 2012, received 48.22% of the vote (90 out of 150 seats in parliament). At the same time, among the opposition, the most votes in the new parliament were received by the party of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili “United National Movement”, for which 27, 18% (36 mandates) of voters voted. It is followed by “European Georgia” with 5 mandates (3.79% of the vote) – a party that was created by Saakashvili’s associates after the split in the UNM. Six more opposition parties that made it to parliament received from four to one seats, including the pro-Russian party Alliance of Patriots (4 mandates, ie 3, 14% of the vote).