For several weeks now, the Central Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has been investigating the incident that took place during the rally held outside Parliament on 20-21 June 2019 on the grounds of organisation of and participation in group violence. As of today, the following persons have been charged: Georgian MP Nika Melia, whose pre-trial restrictions include bail and a number of other measures; politician Irakli Okruashvili and 17 people who have been placed in pre-trial detention. According to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, an investigation is also under way into concrete instances of the use of excessive force by the police during the rally dispersal, although only two police officers have been charged so far.
Unfortunately, the steps that the state has taken to date have failed to gain public trust with regard to impartiality and objectivity of the investigation, namely:
1. The requests for pre-trial detention submitted by the Prosecutor’s Office are mainly formulaic and based on nothing but general reasoning.
2. As of today, 19 protesters and only two police officers have been indicted.
3. The steps taken by the investigative agencies, in some cases, create a perception that, rather than serving a full and objective examination of the issue, they work to form a negative public opinion about the accused. For example, the related to Bezhan Lortkipanidze’s case which was disseminated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and then the of the same incident disseminated by the media cause objective viewers to have different perceptions about what had happened.
It is clear that political or legal responsibility of all groups that participated in the events that unfolded on the night of 20-21 June should be established and assessed appropriately. There is no doubt that everyone is equal before the law, and legal response to all violations (whether committed by the protesters or the police) is necessary. However, such response must be based on strict adherence to the Constitution and the law, high standard of substantiation and maximum degree of public awareness. Against the background of the ongoing crisis, submitting formulaic requests and using pre-trial detention against the rally participants en masse based on unsubstantiated decisions – all that in parallel with the large-scale protest by independent groups of the public – rather points to the wish to exact vengeance on the part of the government. This assessment is made harsher by the fact that, to this day, with the exception of two cases, the public has not received a comprehensive response concerning real measures carried out against police officers who acted violently on 20-21 June; specifically, all the police officers who violated the law have not yet been identified and indicted. In addition, the minister of internal affairs has not assumed political responsibility and the systemic problems that surfaced during the dispersal of the rally have not been analysed and understood either.
Transparency International Georgia
Georgian Democracy Initiative
Human Rights Center
Article 42 of the Constitution
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
Media Development Foundation
Center for Research Journalism and Economic Analysis
Human Rights and Monitoring Center
 On 10 August, pre-trial detention was replaced by bail for one of the detainees, Bezhan Lortkipanidze, due to deterioration of health.
Human Rights House Tbilisi and its member organizations express concern about the frequent arrests and prosecutions following the anti-occupation protests in Tbilisi since June 20, raising reasonable questions among society. Human Rights House Tbilisi together with its member organizations recommends Georgian authorities to refrain from violating human rights and repressing people critical of the government.
The government has demonstrated excessive force against protesters on June 20. In response to a small group of citizens attempting to enter the parliament building, law enforcers have used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon without warning, regardless the status of those close to the parliament. Due to the use of disproportionate force, 240 people have been transferred to health facilities; at least 2 people have lost their eye; several protesters have become severely harmed and more than 30 journalists and media representatives have been injured. The most severe injuries were caused by the rubber bullets used by police officers.
Human Rights House Tbilisi member organizations urge the Georgian government to investigate the facts regarding the law enforcers using excessive force on June 20 and raise the matter of political and criminal liability of the relevant persons.
June 20 developments were followed by the obvious oppressive methods used by the government: More than 10 persons participating in the anti-occupation demonstration on June 20-21 have been charged with group violence (Criminal Code of Georgia, Article 225, part 2). Nikanor Melia, opposition MP, Bezhan Lortkipanidze, biologist and the employee of Nekresi species conservation center and the nephew of the father of Temirlan Machalikashvili – 19-year-old boy killed within a special operation in Pankisi –are also among the accused ones. Publicly reported allegations against them are extremely vague and unconvincing. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the intense investigation of the incidents close to the parliament on June 20-21 is still on, under Article 225 and 315 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
It is also alarming that in the wake of the mentioned ongoing processes, after Mamuka Khazaradze announced about the establishment of a civil movement, Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has charged the founders of TBC Bank – Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze – with money laundering, under the Article 194 of Criminal Code of Georgia.
Recent cases of pressure on media, as well as the presumed politically motivated prosecutions, is also worth to be mentioned:
Irakli Okruashvili, the leader of the political party Victorious Georgia has been detained referring June 20 developments, under the Article 225 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (organizing, heading and participating in group violence). It is also important to highlight that the investigation on June 20 developments began on July 23, suspiciously coinciding with Irakli Okruashvili’s announcement on July 19 – claiming ownership of Rustavi 2 and requesting the seizure of the shares of Kibar Khalvashi and Panorama Tbilisi.
Vato Tsereteli, the founder of TV Pirveli critical of the government was also summoned for questioning. Tsereteli supposes his father to be accused of manipulating over him.
The chain of mentioned developments portrays that the government seeks to suppress civil protests by grossly violating human rights and opposing the idea of democratic rule of law.
Human Rights House Tbilisi and its member organizations urge the government authorities and ruling political party to:
We, the undersigned organizations, are writing in response to the statement released by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia in relation to the charges filed against Nika Gvaramia, the former Director-General of Rustavi 2 TV.
At this point, it is not possible to thoroughly assesses the information presented by the Prosecutor’s Office. Nevertheless, the developments over the last couple of months have shown that the investigative bodies have become noticeably active against the opponents of the government, as well as towards individuals that have a direct or indirect link with media outlets running a critical editorial policy. As a rule, the actions of the law enforcement go hand in hand with the aggressive rhetoric of the government.
It is obvious that the Prosecutor’s office is working the case against Nika Gvaramia in an accelerated manner; they have filed charges against him on the basis of a statement that was made a month ago. The accelerated manner of investigation for Gvaramia’s case is noteworthy as there are many other cases of high public interest that are not investigated as promptly and quickly. Moreover, the Prosecutor’s Office decision to become active against Gvaramia coincided with the latter’s announcement of the intention to create a new TV company.
Due to the aforementioned circumstances, we have reasonable grounds to believe that this case may be politically motivated and is aimed at persecuting opponents and critical media.
We call on the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to present the specific hard evidence of the case and to act within the interests of the law rather than through the interests of the ruling party.
Transparency International Georgia
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
Georgia's Reforms Associates
Society and Banks
Georgian Democracy Initiative
Atlantic Council of Georgia
In Depth Reporting and Economic analysis Center
Economic Policy Research Center
Open Society Georgia Foundation
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
UN Association of Georgia
Media Development Foundation
Eleven years passed since the 2008 August War between Russia and Georgia which brought devastating consequences. However, the justice has yet to be served – the perpetrators are so far enjoying impunity, while the victims are still waiting for the restoration of their rights.
Hundreds of people were killed during the 2008 August War, numerous civilians were victimized and their fundamental rights were violated. The crimes committed against them were serious and took place on a mass scale. They included ethnic cleansing of Georgian population living in the conflict region, intentional murder, disappearance, destruction of property, forced displacement, illegal detention and captivity, torture and inhuman treatment.
These acts which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity are currently investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The investigation is followed by significant challenges, including the lack of active information campaign for victims’ communities and wider public, passing of long period since the war and Russia’s refusal to cooperate. These challenges may become obstacles for conducting comprehensive investigation, as well as ensuring effective inclusion of victims in the ongoing process and restoring justice. These issues are examined in detail in the recent report of the member organizations of the Georgian Coalition for International Criminal Court – 10 Years after the August War – Victims of the Situation in Georgia.
Eleven years since the August War the victims are coming across numerous problems in their daily life. The services offered by the state are insufficient for the improvement of their conditions. The socio-economic problems are especially grave in the IDP settlements, including unbearable living conditions, lack of employment opportunities, impossibility of agricultural work, nonexistence of the medical services, lack of sources of income and access to education.
Since the August War, the situation has become grave in the villages located along the dividing lines of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The local population is facing fear on a daily basis as a result of the illegal detentions and kidnapping from the side of the Russian and so-called South Ossetian and Abkhazian border guards. The facts of illegal detentions along the occupation line take place on a mass scale in recent years. The facts of killing of ethnic Georgians in recent years in the occupied territories and along the occupation line are especially alarming.
Considering the above mentioned, the bodies of Georgian government must:
- Conduct effective investigation on national level and inform the public regarding the progress of the investigation. Considering the gravity and scale of the crimes committed by the Russian Federation during the August War, all necessary measures must be taken so that the acts committed by Russia do not stay unexamined and unpunished;
- Take relevant measures for the improvement of socio-economic situation of the IDPs, considering the individual needs of each IDP settlement.
At the same time, the Trust Fund for Victims must implement assistance programs in order to support the victims, as for the International Criminal Court, it must:
- Intensify awareness raising campaigns in order to better inform the victims’ communities and wider society regarding the work of the Court and ongoing investigation;
- Develop strategy in order tackle the challenges related to ongoing investigation and ensure the effective implementation of its mandate for the restoration of justice for the victims.
On the eleventh anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, the Russian Federation continues to occupy Georgian territory and grossly violate the ceasefire agreement signed by the two countries. Construction of barbed wire fences and fortifications, restriction of free movement of civilians, their abduction, torture and killings continue along the occupation line.
Despite these circumstances, representatives of the government of Georgia continue to place their party interests above those of the state by issuing statements accusing Georgia's previous government of starting the war. In this way, they share the position held by Putin, president of the occupying state, and strengthen Russian disinformation.
According to the Tagliavini Report, prior to the official launch of the Russian military operation, Russian troops had already entered the Tskhinvali region without the mandate of a peacekeeping force. The Russian Federation also deployed railway troops to Abkhazia as early as May 2008. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the plan of war against Georgia was drafted by the Russian General Staff in 2006.
We, members of the civil society Coalition for a Euro-Atlantic Georgia, strongly condemn the statements made by Georgian government representatives regarding the eleventh anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war. We call on them to refrain from voicing positions that serve Russia's interests and threaten Georgia's statehood, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
Open Society Georgia Foundation
Atlantic Council of Georgia
The Economic Policy Research Center
Society and Banks
The Human Rights Centre
Article 42 of the Constitution
Georgia’s Reforms Associates
The Georgian Institute of Politics
Transparency International Georgia
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
The Coalition is responding to the act of protest by Ana Dolidze and Nazi Janezashvili, non-judge members of the High Council of Justice (HCoJ), expressed in temporarily leaving the interviews of judicial candidates for the Supreme Court on the 22nd and 23rd of July. The non-judge members of the HCoJ explained the protest as a reaction to gender-based discrimination in relation to them. In their joint statement, they emphasized that the decision of the HCoJ about holding interviews after working hours neglects their parental obligations. Nazi Janezashvili stated that her 9-month year old child requires her attention and interaction, which are limited by the inappropriate schedule introduced by the HCoJ. This practice has become regular, leading us to believe that the HCoJ plans to continue the process in the same format and timeframe.
The Coalition believes that creating working conditions depriving women of the opportunity to take care of their children and fulfill their parental obligations is essentially a form of indirect gender discrimination. Moreover, holding the interviews after working hours damages the quality of the selection process. Holding the interviews without consideration of any fixed working hours excludes the possibility of comprehensive and proper evaluation of candidates and goes against their interest, as well as the interests of the members and staff of the HCoJ, as well as the observers of the process. Such practice can be considered as an attempt of the HCoJ to accelerate the process at the expense of its quality.
The 11th Article of the Constitution of Georgia provides guarantees of essential equality between men and women. These guarantees differ from the formal equality by taking special measures to address the historically unequal treatment of women.
The Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination prohibits indirect discrimination, defined as a formally neutral and essentially discriminatory practice that puts certain people in a disadvantageous position compared to others or treats individuals in essentially unequal conditions identically.
As the collection of gender-based statistics is problematic in Georgia, we can refer to the recent European Commission (EC) statistics to support the argument that women are put in disadvantageous conditions when unfixed working hours are introduced. The statistics supporting the existence of indirect discrimination indicate that the employment rate of women in Europe (65.3%) lags behind the employment rate of men (76.8%), while higher education is more prevalent among women compared to men in the majority of age groups. Thus, it is clear that the low employment rate among women cannot be caused by the lack of their qualifications. According to the statistics from Eurostat, the EC indicates that factors such as parental role and family care obligations have a negative impact on the level of employment among women. More specifically, the statistics show that in the 25-49 year age group more than 50% of women are unemployed only because they have to take care of a child or a vulnerable family member.
Unfixed working hours and impossibility to adapt working schedules to the needs of a child force most women to refrain from work and career development. Therefore, such factors influence women disproportionally more harshly than men. Additionally, in most cases, indirect discriminatory decisions are made by men in leadership positions who have not experienced a disproportionally heavy burden of childcare due to culturally affirmed gender roles and stereotypes.
Unfortunately the neglect of women’s obligations related to care is not a novelty in the Georgian court system. The Coalition’s 2016 research revealed the same problem. In interviews, former and acting female judges indicated that promotions were achieved at the expense of familial and parental obligations. Maintaining such values and attitudes in the court system excludes the possibility of reaching gender equality in the future. Gender equality significantly differs from gender balance and means not only having female judges in the system but also providing them with promotion opportunities comparable to men.
Today the interviews of Supreme Court judicial candidates are observed by thousands of women, for whom it is vital to see that the court system acknowledges the historical inequality of women in the country. The essential equality of women is achievable only if their parental needs are considered. Therefore, the demands of the HCoJ non-judge members to observe working hours that are compatible with their parental obligations have to be met to convince women to address the courts in the future in cases where their rights and equality require protection. Above all, this will not only respond to the needs of two non-judge members of the HCoJ, but rather, will protect the equal rights of all HCoJ members who have children, and have the obligation to provide care for family members. Holding interviews beyond any rational timeframe damages the selection process itself and undermines the interests of the candidates, the HCoJ staff and observers.
The Coalition urges the HCoJ to consider the statements made by the non-judge members, and uphold their right to essential equality guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia and national legislation, by providing adequate and proper working conditions for women in the court system. We call on he HCoJ to hold interviews during the working hours and refrain from unfixed work schedules.
 Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary, The Judicial System: Past Reforms and Future Perspectives, 2016, pp. 29-372016.გვ.29-37. Available (22.07.2019).
On June 7, 2019 "Article 42
of the Constitution", presented an alternative report on the
execution of the judgments/decisions rendered by the European Court
of Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as the ECtHR) against
Georgia to the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the
Parliament of Georgia. The report includes analysis of national
legislation and practices on three thematic issues. The
implementation of reforms with respect to these issues is based on
the judgments/decisions of the ECtHR against Georgia. The execution
of these judgments/decisions is supervised by the Committee of
Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The first issue discussed in the report concerns the disciplinary liability of judges, which is based on applications in the ECtHR of up to ten former judges against Georgia.1 This part of the report reviews what are the obstacles the applicant judges came across in the attempt of restoration of their rights; Also, the shortcomings of the disciplinary liability grounds and mechanisms that need to be reviewed in future for the prevention of the new/same violations.
The second issue concerns the guarantees of fair trial in the case proceedings of administrative offenses. The ECtHR covered this topic when dealing with the cases concerning the dissolution of peaceful protests of June 15, 2009 by forceful methods2. This part of the report reviews only a few shortcomings of the Code of Administrative Offenses, which in all such cases result in violation of the requirements of the ECHR; namely, distribution of the burden of proof, the importance of neutral evidence and presumption of truthfulness of the police statements.
The third issue discusses the prevention of the crime of entrapment; specifically, in connection with operative-investigative activities, that the ECtHR highlighted in the case of “Tchokhonelidze v. Georgia" (application N31536 / 07, 28/06/2018). This part of the report reviews the gaps in the national legislation that may be followed by more breaches of human rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights; also, the standards established by the ECtHR and other countries’ experience are reviewed for the purpose of preventing the crime of entrapment and for effective response to such cases.
As a result of the amendments made to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia in 2016, Parliament annually hears the reports of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia on execution of judgments/decisions rendered against Georgia by the ECtHR and the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies.
The Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia also envisage the right of interested persons to present their opinions and assessments regarding the execution of the judgments/decisions of the ECtHR and UN Treaty Bodies decisions against Georgia. Within the scope of this authority, on June 10 and 18, 2019 "Article 42 of the Constitution", along with the submission of an alternative report, made an oral presentation at the meetings with the Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration and the Committee of Legal Affairs.
The role of
civil society in the process of execution of judgments/decisions
rendered against the state is recognized not only nationally, but
regionally and internationally. This authority of civil society has
been formalized in the Council of Europe system through the
amendments to relevant regulations.
It is important for the new function of the Parliament of Georgia to supervise the execution of the judgments/decisions of the ECtHR on national level not to be just formality but becomes an effective mechanism for involving interested persons and groups.
Alternative report submitted to the Parliament by "Article 42 of the Constitution" was prepared within the scope of the project: "Enhancing execution of the judgments/decisions and UN Treaty Bodies decisions through research and advocacy (concerning criminal justice and judicial system in Georgia) which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the program Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia "(PROLoG).
1. See Sturua v. Georgia, application 45729/05, 28/03/2017;
Gabaidze v. Georgia, application 13723/06, 12/10/2017;
Iliashvili v. Georgia, application 22715/07, 09/10/2018
Laliashvili v. Georgia, application 8710/07, 27/11/2018;
Turava and Others v. Georgia, application 7607/07, 27/11/2018
and Alasania and Bardavelidze v. Georgia, applications 12611/08 and 25500/08, 09/10/2018
2. See Studio Maestro Ltd and others v. Georgia, case N22318/10), 30/06/2015
Giorgi Bekauri and others v. Georgia , application 312/10, 15/09/2015 and Menabde v. Georgia, application 4731/10, 13/10/2015.
3. See Rules of the Committee of Ministers for the supervision of the execution of judgments and of the terms of friendly settlements, Rule 9.2; available at https://rm.coe.int/16806eebf0 last accessed on 25/072019.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir;
Head of the European and Eastern Europe Department of Reporters without Borders Johann Bihr;
EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore;
Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo;
Associate Director Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, Giorgi Gogia;
Director of Europe and Eurasia programs of Freedom House Marc Behrendt;
President of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) Otmar Lahodynsky;
Managing Director of European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Dr. Lutz Kinkel;
Head of the Europe and Central Asia team of Article 19 Sarah Clarke;
Chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Kathleen Carroll;
General Secretary of European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Ricardo Gutiérrez;
Chair of the International Press Institute (IPI) Markus Spillmann;
General Secretary The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Anthony Bellanger
Non-governmental organizations based in Georgia are addressing you in regard to the recent developments around Rustavi 2 TV.
As you are already aware, the European Court of Human Rights rendered its judgement on the Rustavi 2 ownership dispute case on July 18, 2019. As a result of this judgement, the decision of the Georgian court system was enforced and a change was made to the ownership of Rustavi 2. Moreover, the owner appointed a new director. As evidenced by the prior negative experience in the Georgian media landscape, the change in management/ownership has a direct effect on the change of the broadcaster’s critical editorial policy towards the government. These developments pose a risk in worsening the existing media landscape in Georgia and restricting media pluralism. A number of non-governmental organizations have released a public statement in this regard.
Rustavi 2 TV Company, which is affiliated with the opposition, is known for its critical editorial policy towards the Georgian Dream ruling party. Representatives of the Government, including the former Prime-Minister and informal ruler, Bidzina Ivanishvili, have made public their discontent about Rustavi 2 and expressed their wish to see changes to its editorial policy.
The new owner of Rustavi 2 TV made a statement claiming that there are no plans to change the editorial policy or to dismiss journalists. In spite of these promises, there is reasonable ground to believe that these statements are not convincing and have no substance. These concerns are based on the following noteworthy circumstances:
Last week, the staff of Rustavi 2 proposed to the new owner the creation of a public board that would provide safeguards for editorial independence. This board would be composed of representatives from the civil society, media experts and persons nominated by the owner. The purpose of the board was to prevent interference in the broadcaster’s editorial policy and to establish safeguards, in light of the new circumstances, for the protection of the labor rights of the journalists. The new owner turned down the journalists’ initiative and did not propose an alternative mechanism that would provide institutional protection. Moreover, according to a statement by the new management, the broadcaster is facing serious financial problems. There is a risk that this circumstance can be used by the new management to dismiss undesirable journalists, which would change the editorial policy of the broadcaster. Notably, while the case was still in court, the company was in an unfavourable financial situation, especially due to the asset freeze, but the management of the TV still managed to keep the broadcasting running.
We, the undersigned organizations, are calling on you to follow the developments around Rustavi 2 and thoroughly monitor all ongoing processes. It is important to preserve the broadcaster’s critical editorial policy and to prevent any violations of the labor rights of journalists.
“Article 42 of the Constitution” reflects on the ongoing competition on the vacancies of judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia and believes that the secret deal among the members of the Council of Justice on the candidates of the members of the Supreme Court, including the gaps revealed during the competition, puts the legitimacy of the entire process under suspicion.
At the initial stage of the competition, the Coalition for the Independence and Transparency of Judiciary, referred to the circumstance which created a legitimate basis for the withdrawal of several members of the Council, including the participation in the process of the unauthorized member and the incompatibility of the interests, these appeals have been left with no response.
Candidates participating in the contest
At the beginning of the trial, despite the NGO sector, many qualified and highly reputable lawyers refused to participate in the competition, which was due to distrust towards the process. However, the Chief Prosecutor Shalva Tadumadze participated in the competition, while the Prosecutor's Office had not yet completed investigation of the cases related to the Supreme Council of Justice or its authorities (including the leakage of qualification tests in December 2015, as well as the fact of supposed beating of an underage Giorgi Mikautadze in the summer of 2016). Everyone has the right to participate in the competition if he/she meets the requirements set by the law but not as an acting chief prosecutor. This may not violate the law directly, however, it creates obvious risks of undesirable influences and impacts.
Acting Secretary of the High Council of Justice Giorgi Mikautadze participated in the competition as well. Two non-judge members of the High Council of Justice spoke about the inadmissibility of participation in the competition. Implementation of powers in the capacity of the chairperson of the council, when the same person is a candidate to become a judge was evaluated by the Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary as a conflict of interests. However, these demands have been left with no response.
Closure of the information about the Candidates
The High Council of Justice refused to disclose applications and attached documents submitted by the candidates participating in the selection of the judges of the Supreme Court to a number of organizations, citing personal data protection. According to the amendments made to the Organic Law on Common Courts on May 1, 2019, this information (except the health status of a candidate) should be public and accessible to everyone. Furthermore, according to the Article 44 of the General Administrative Code of Georgia, the information about the candidate, who is a public official, is public and cannot be closed by the motif of personal data protection. It is obvious that in this case the High Council of Justice of Georgia has violated the requirements of the law.
The first stage of the competition
According to the Law of Georgia on Common Courts, each member of the Council is obliged to make decisions independently and individually. Nevertheless, the results of the first stage of the competition disclosed by the Public Defender of Georgia show that at least 9 people in the High Council of Justice acted with a co-ordinated scheme to bring concrete candidates to the second stage of the competition. Among them, there is a list of ten people composed by the High Council of Justice in December 2018, except for three, who have willingly abandoned the competition.
The scheme was carried out as follows:
The first (4-person) marked 20 of the same candidate.
The second (3-person) group circled 20 one and the same candidates (but completely different from the first group).
The third (2-person) group also 20 circled 20 one and the same candidates (15 out of which were the candidates marked by the second group and 5 other candidates).
According to the “Article 42 of the Constitution” the likelihood that such results should be established without the prior agreement among the members of the High Council of Justice virtually impossible. These facts once again prove that the judiciary is facing the governing crisis that cannot be improved by the judiciary system without assessment and adequate response.
Based on all the above mentioned, the “Article 42 of the Constitution” calls:
1. Parliaments of Georgia
- To initiate a review of the resolution on clan governance in court system, this was submitted to the Parliament on June 4, 2019.
- In the shortest possible time, consider the issue of termination of the authority of the member of the High Council of Justice Zaza Kharebava.
- To ensure the participation of the Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary representatives in the working group of the Legal Issues Committee.
2. The High Council of Justice of Georgia
- To consider and decide on the elimination issue of the member of the High Council of Justice- Tamar Oniani from the course of the competition.
- To ensure the publicity of the candidates' data.
1For more precision, the net mathematical probability of such results is as follows: The net mathematical probability of marking the two identical ballot papers equals to 1 / (5 * 1023), the probability of marking the three identical ballot papers equals to 1 / (2 * 1047) and the probability of four similar bulletins comes to 1 / (1 * 1071). For instance, one-in-a-billion chance in math is expressed as 1 / (1 * 109).
"Article 42 of the Constitution" responds to the fact of breaking up of the demonstrators with the use of forceful methods on June 20 and believes that the actions of the government have gone beyond the frames set by the Georgian legislation and has turned into repression from the disproportionate response action.
Yesterday, participants of peaceful protest gathered in front of the parliament building of Georgia in protest of the Russian politician's ceremonial reception that supported the recognition of the occupied territories as independent states. Participants also demanded to take responsibility and resign from the Chairman of the Parliament.
Under the circumstances the state failed to assess the level of severity of the dissatisfaction amongst the population accurately and was not able to de-escalate the critical situation. As a result, the manifestation escalated into the violent confrontation between the police forces and the members of the rally.
Demonstrators were dispersed with use of the tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons by the Special Forces and police. Following the dispersion of the main part of the rally, law enforcers continued to use rubber bullets and tear gas against the protesters. Finally, according to various data, 240 people were injured during the dispersal in Tbilisi, including at least 12 journalists; some people lost their eyes and suffered severe surgery.
Considering the number of the casualties and the degrees of the corporal injuries, "Article 42 of the Constitution" believes that the State used critically disproportionate, unreasonable and repressive force against the participants of the demonstration. Preventing the possible illegal actions of certain individuals cannot justify the brutality and crimes carried out by the authorities.
"Article 42 of the Constitution," believes that for the de-escalation of the situation it is important that the government takes all legal measures to find the officials behind the orders to use the disproportionate force and hold them accountable in accordance with the law.
"Article 42 of the Constitution" offers legal assistance to all the people who have suffered as a result of the violent dispersion of the demonstration or have been illegally detained.
The Coalition is extremely concerned by the refusal of the High Council of Justice (the Council) to disclose public information regarding judicial candidates for the Supreme Court to the society. Under the May 1, 2019 amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts, this information (except for the candidates’ medical records) is public and has to be accessible to everyone. By refusing to release public information, the Council is violating the law.
More specifically, in its June 13 letter, the Council refused to disclose applications and supporting documents submitted by participants of the competition for the selection of Supreme Court justices for the reasons related to the personal data protection, even though this information is public under the law. The law, thus interpreted, raises doubts about the Council’s intention to hide information on certain candidates.
The original draft of legislative amendments included a clause according to which the candidate-related information submitted to the Council was supposed to be confidential. In response to harsh criticism raised by this clause, the Chair of the Parliament Legal Committee, Anri Okhanashvili, while presenting the draft law in the Parliament, clearly stated that it would be amended. Eventually, this provision was removed from the bill. was also urging the Parliament to ensure maximal disclosure of information on candidates. In this context, a different interpretation of the law by the Council is arbitrary and is detrimental to the credibility of the competition.
In the debates over the draft legislation, the Government representatives reiterated that their version of the bill was aiming at an “unprecedentedly transparent” selection of Supreme Court Justices. The Council’s recent decision makes the competition for the selection of Supreme Court justices less transparent compared to the selection of any other public official. Under Article 44 of the General Administrative Code of Georgia, the information regarding a candidate for a public office is open and cannot be closed due to considerations related to the personal data protection.
The Coalition believes that the Council’s decision to conceal documents related to candidates eliminates likelihood of public trust in the results of the competition. As of today the Council has only published the candidates’ short biographies on its webpage and the society does not have an opportunity to check validity of this information and supporting documents. Stakeholders are unable to review the documents provided by candidates including their researches, court decisions and other relevant information that can be used for the evaluation of their competence and integrity.
The Coalition is calling on the High Council of Justice to immediately disclose the information submitted by candidates (except for their medical records) and collected by the Council and suspend the competition procedures in the meanwhile.
The Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary responds to the commencement of the selection of Supreme Court Justices and calls on two members of the High Council of Justice (the Council) to recuse themselves from the next stages of the review.
On June 7, 2019 the High Council of Justice of Georgia started the process of consideration of judicial candidates for the Supreme Court of Georgia. Prior to the registration of candidates, it became evident that the judge member of the Council, Tamar Oniani, and one of the applicants, Zurab Aznaurashvili were relatives. According to the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts, a member of the High Council of Justice is required to disclose a conflict of interest in advance and abstain from participating in the decision-making process regarding a specific candidate. The requirement to inform a collegial body about existence of personal interests and to recuse oneself from the decision-making process is also established in the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service. Even though the accuracy of the information regarding Tamar Oniani’s familial connections with one of the candidates for the position of Supreme Court Justices was confirmed during the session, she neglected the requirements of the law, namely, she failed to inform the Council about the conflict of interest in advance. Furthermore, she refused to recuse herself from the process regardless demands of several non-judge members of the Council raised during the session.
On May 14, 2019 the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary addressed the Parliament of Georgia with a request to study lawfulness of selection of another member of the High Council of Justice, Zaza Kharebava. During the selection process, the candidacy of Zaza Kharebava was presented by an organization, which was not eligible to do so. This is a severe violation of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia and the Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts and represents a clear ground for the termination of his authority. However, despite the significance of this issue, the Parliament has not yet discussed it and Mr. Kharebava continues carrying out his duties in the Council, including participation in the review and voting procedures for the selection of judicial candidates for the Supreme Court.
The selection of Supreme Court Justices consists of several stages where each of the Council members’ votes is important. Participation of certain members of the Council in this process while lawfulness of their engagement raises legitimate questions in the society makes it difficult to carry out an objective, fair, and impartial selection of Supreme Court Justices. This may undermine the public trust in this process.
In light of these arguments, the Coalition urges:
Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary responds to the procedural violations in the competition for the selection of the State Inspector and the failure to provide financial guarantees for the Inspector’s office
On May 17, 2019, The Government of Georgia announced a call for the position of State Inspector. The Selection Commission, as suggested by the existing legislation, included the Chair of one of the Coalition’s member organizations— Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)—and the Deputy Public Defender of Georgia. Both of them are asserting that the competition was held with severe violations.
Only one out of the seven applicants who were invited for an interview (2nd stage of the competition) had fulfilled all the requirements established by the Commission’s Statute – this applicant only submitted a letter of motivation as required. On June 1, 2019, the Commission interviewed five candidates who came for an interview and selected two candidates to be submitted to the Prime Minister, despite the fact that one of the two had not passed the first stage of the competition. On the 3rd of June, 2019, both candidacies were submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for review (see the illustration of the procedure for selecting the State Inspector in the annex below).
Therefore, this process raises a reasonable suspicion that the Commission members’ decision was motivated by an intention to appoint a predetermined candidate for the positon of State Inspector
There were further violations in the communication with the members of the Commission and decision-making procedures.
The Coalition negatively assesses these procedural violations. It should be noted that the competition carried in violation of the law can undermine the legitimacy of the State Inspector’s future work.
This process is even more alarming in the context of the public statement made by the acting State Inspector on May 29th. The statement revealed that the Government of Georgia has not assigned adequate funds to ensure operation of the Inspector’s office. It is worth mentioning that the office was temporarily shut down twice, due to insufficient financial guarantees. Furthermore, according to the information provided by Tamar Kaldani, the list of staff required for fulfilling investigative duties from 1st of July onwards is not yet determined.
The critical need for activating the State Inspector’s Office (whose limited investigative powers are extended to possible wrongdoings by representatives of certain law enforcement bodies) is confirmed by the statistics from recent years, where in almost every case, the investigation of an offence allegedly committed by a representative of a law enforcement body representative does not generate any results.
Consequently, the Coalition calls on to the Parliament and Government of Georgia to take the following actions:
The procedure for the selection of the State Inspector
under the law on the State Inspector’s Service
Prime Minister submits 2 candidacies to the Parliament of Georgia
Commission submits at least 2 but not more than 5 candidacies to Prime Minister
Competition commission is created under the Prime Minister’s order
Commission develops a statute including rules and terms for the submission of candidacies
The Parliament of Georgia elects the State Inspector by the vote of the majority of the full composition.
Please find attached draft resolution. We shall be happy to recieve your thoughts and comments:
May 29 marks two years after the disappearance of the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi. Based on the decision of the local court he is currently serving the prison time in Azerbaijan for the illegal border crossing, smuggling and resistance to the police.
The investigation by the Georgian investigative authorities into alleged abduction of Mukhtarli is still ineffective, without any progress. The number of requests Afgan’s advocates called on the government, including the request to grant the victim status to Afgan Mukhtarli and his wife, have been left unanswered.
Even though 30 civil society and media organizations have addressed the Parliament of Georgia, it refused to create the temporary commission on investigation of the alleged abduction of Mukhtarli in Georgia.
Currently, the case of Afgan Mukhtarli is examined in the European Court of Human Rights with priority status. The application that concerns the violation of several rights guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights is lodged both against Georgia and Azerbaijan. (Mukhtarli v. Azerbaijan and Georgia, Application No. 39503/17). The governments of both states have submitted answers to the questions asked by the Court. The questions posed before the government of Georgia were in regard to the alleged abduction of Mukhtarli, as well as the ineffective investigation.
The disappearance of Afgan Mukhtarli from Tbilisi and his reappearance in Azerbaijani prison has resulted in many negative consequences for Georgia’s domestic or international public image. The questions about Mukhtarli case by the international partners of Georgia, like the United States of America, European Union or European Council, as well as international organizations working on human rights violations, have been left unanswered.
Successful completion of the Mukhtarli case in the European Court of Human Rights will not only bring financial damage to Georgia but once again will hurt its public image of a democratic state oriented at protection of the human rights. Whereas, if the investigative authorities had conducted the effective investigation, this additional damage could have been avoided.
Signatory organizations once again urge the investigative authorities of Georgia to take all the necessary measures for the effective investigation of Afgan Mukhtarli’s alleged abduction, reveal offenders and punish them.
* Interests of Afgan Mukhtarli on the national and international level are protected by the Human Rights House Tbilisi member organization “Article 42 of the Constitution”.
 See also “Case of Afghan Mukhtarli, Facts and Evaluation” Report, Human Rights House Tbilisi, May 2018. Available at: https://hrht.ge/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ENG__Online.pdf
On 19th May snap elections are going to be held in several electoral districts. During the last few weeks political activities in Zugdidi electoral district reached the highest threshold of tension. We consider that all the parties involved in electoral processes must abstain from escalating the situation in all the possible ways. It is really important to give all the candidates the opportunity to carry out their electoral campaign in a peaceful environment and the voters as well mustn’t be precluded from the free expression of their will.
A few days ago United National Movement (UNM) Mayoral candidate and her accompanying persons were physically insulted. At this moment police have arrested one person. Moreover, three days ago a video recording in which Gia Danelia, a member of Zugdidi City Assembly, is supposed to be involved. The report recounts how Dandelia speaks about the instruction provided for pressure, bribery and abduction of voters. Yet it is unknown when the recording was made.
Except for the attacks against the candidate of the UNM and above-mentioned recording, during the last few days situation has escalated on several occasions in Zugdidi City Assembly and District Election Commission, where the clashes broke out between UNM supporters and police.
We are informed that on the Election Day the candidates and their political parties are going to mobilize several thousand activists in order to involve them in the electoral process, that’s why there is a risk of physical confrontation between the parties.
Hence, we call on all the political parties to abstain from aggression and confrontation by all means available, in order not to damage the electoral process. Moreover, we call on law enforcement authorities and investigatory bodies to use all legal tools in order to maintain public order and effectively investigate possible violations of law.
Transparency International Georgia (TIG)
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Article 42 of the Constitution
Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Human Rights Center
On May 10, 2019, under the
decision of the High Council of Justice the process to select the
candidates to be nominated to the Parliament of Georgia for the
position of Judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia has begun.
A competent citizen of Georgia of 30 years of age who has a higher legal education with at least a master’s or equal academic degree/higher education diploma, at least five years of working experience in the specialty, has the command of the official language, may be appointed (elected) as a judge (Organic Law of the Common Courts, Article 34).
Although there is a fair
share of nihilism in the society and professional circles regarding
the candidate selection process of the Supreme Court judge position
in the High Council of Justice as well as in the parliament;
However, it is important to highlight the role and importance of
the Supreme Court of Georgia in Georgian
The judges of the Supreme Court should be selected by high participation of candidates, through a transparent process, so that this process will not remain in the hands of the parties concerned.
Considering this circumstance, the main purpose and activity of which is the establishment of human rights and fair principles is the day when the current process should not be held without active participation of the professional circles.
On the contrary, in order to improve the position of the Supreme Court judges to be elected to the standard and to minimize the potential of misuse of this process of to the legislation, it is necessary to consider as many conscientious and qualified candidates for to fill the vacancy as possible.
Therefore, we call on to all practitioners operating in Georgia, lawyer, attorneys, prosecutors, academic representatives, who meet the criteria established by the law of the Supreme Court of Georgia to participate in the election of Supreme Court judge contest.
Article 42 of the Constitution, under the law of Georgia will monitor the selection process, in the High Council of Justice, as well as in Parliament.
The European Court of Human Rights created a precedent of issuing an advisory opinion
The European Court of Human Rights created a precedent of issuing an advisory opinion
The European Court of Human Rights used its the authority to issue an advisory opinion for the first time throughout its practice under Article 16 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms requested by the French Court of Cassation . 
The advisory opinion is important both in terms of content and as an instrument by which the European Court of Human Rights created the first precedent of its enhanced authority.
In case of childbearing through surrogacy, when the child is born via surrogate mother abroad:
• Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the European Convention Article 8 of protection of privacy rights, the state will have to take into account the possibility that the relationship between the child and the non-biological mother may be recognized as a legal relationship between parent and child, when the birth certificate issued abroad recognizes the non-biological mother as "legal parent."
• Such a possibility does not necessarily mean the obligation to register in the State and in the Register of Civil Acts. The alternative path may also be a child adoption mechanism by the non-biological mother, if the internal legislation ensures quick and efficient implementation of the procedure, in accordance with the best interest of the child. 
According to the advisory opinion, the European Court of Human Rights has enlarged and specified the scope of the right protected by Article 8, taking into consideration the new reality created by the possibility of childbirth through surrogacy. The Eurasian Court's explanations clearly demonstrate the living nature of the mechanism of social life, and therefore the fundamental role of courts in the transformation process.
The second fundamental aspect is related to the conceptual conclusion as an instrument. Under Article 16 of the Convention, which was adopted on October 2, 2013 and entered into force on 1 August 2018, the European Court of Human Rights was granted the right to issue the advisory opinions on the basis of the application of the national courts. Article 1 of the Protocol is as follows:
“Highest courts and tribunals of a High Contracting Party, as specified in accordance with Article 10, may request the Court to give advisory opinions on questions of principle relating to the interpretation or application of the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention or the protocols thereto.” 
Each High Contracting Party to the Convention shall, at the time of signature or when depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval, indicate the courts or tribunals that it designates as highest courts.  The requesting court or tribunal may seek an advisory opinion only in the context of a case pending before it. The requesting court or tribunal shall give reasons for its request and shall provide the relevant legal and factual background of the pending case. 
If the Grand Chamber issues a consultation conclusion, it should be substantiated, however, the conclusion does not have a mandatory nature and does not involve the decision of the national courts to decide on the case conclusion. 
The 16th protocol of the convention was ratified by Georgia in 2015. 
The courts with the right to request an advisory conclusion were named: the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Constitutional Court of Georgia. 
The relevant amendments were made in the Organic Law of Georgia on the Procedural Legislation and the Constitutional Court of Georgia. The courts, seeking an advisory opinion apply to the European Court of Human Rights on their own initiative. The right of a Party to request the use of this mechanism is not envisaged by the applicable legislation, court informs the parties about applying to the European Court of Human Rights and for its advisory conclusion.
According to the preamble of Protocol No.16: “Considering that the extension of the Court’s competence to give advisory opinions will further enhance the interaction between the Court and national authorities and thereby reinforce implementation of the Convention, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity;” 
This mechanism can be considered as a preventive instrument designed to reduce the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights at the earliest stage of the proceedings, through the involvement of a recommendatory nature by the European Court.
The negative side of the mechanism is the expansion of the powers of the European Court of Human Rights and its actual interference in the process of domestic proceedings, but the weakness of this argument is in the non-binding opinion. 
The effective functioning of the mechanism depends largely on the readiness of states (highest courts) to use this mechanism and to avoid further violations of the Convention.
 ADVISORY OPINION
concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child
relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy
arrangement abroad and the intended mother Requested by the French
Court of Cassation
 Protocol No. 16 to the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
 Protocol No.16 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
 Ibid. Article 10
 Ibid. Article 1
 Ibid. Article 4
 Resolution of the Parliament of Georgia on Ratification of the Protocol No.16 of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
 Georgia - Reservations and Declarations for Treaty No.214 - Protocol No. 16 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
 Preamble, Protocol No.16 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
 Protocol No. 16 of the European Convention on Human Rights 13/07/2015, the need for elaboration of the protocol, the official goals and procedures.
The Human Rights House Tbilisi and its member organizations echo the ongoing criminal proceedings into the murder case of the human rights defender Vitali Safarov and call on the Government of Georgia to ensure comprehensive and effective investigation. It is particularly alarming that the murder was committed based on hate motives by the members of the ultranationalist, neo-Nazi group.
On September 30, 2018, human rights defender Vitali Safarov, 25, was killed in Tbilisi. As witness statements demonstrate, the conflict started in a café in the downtown Tbilisi and then continued in the street – the reason of the violence against Vitali Safarov from the side of the members of the neo-Nazi/ultranationalist groups was his human rights activism, ethnicity and liberalism and the fact that he was not speaking Georgian with his foreign guests of the café. According to the expert statement, Vitali Safarov had 9 wounds, 4 of them were incompatible with life. Currently, two persons are defendants – they are the members of the so-called neo-Nazi group.
Vitali Safarov worked for the Center for Participation and Development (CPD); he was also the team member of the project Tbilisi Shelter City. He was actively engaged in organizing youth camps and different projects on tolerance and against racism, xenophobia and discrimination. It is alarming that the human rights defender became a victim of the representatives of the group, which instill racism and xenophobia in the society.
In the past years, violent actions and demonstrations of various ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi/fascist groups have become one of the acute challenges for the State of Georgia. They are aggressive and intolerant towards liberal people. Recently, many hate-motivated incidents happened against migrants or other groups on racial and ethnic grounds. The murder of Vitali Safarov is particularly noteworthy as it refers to the hate-motivated murder of an individual based on racial intolerance. At the same time, the interviews with the witnesses of Vitali Safarov’s murder reveal that during the past two years “Emergency and Operative Response Centre – 112“and criminal police had received multiple calls about the violent acts committed by the defendants. The witnesses noted that police never reacted to their phone calls. It once again demonstrated the threat of increasing number of hate-motivated crimes in the Georgian society and the state institutions are obliged to ensure the elaboration of effective preventive measures to combat them.
As the threat of hate-motivated crimes has significantly increased recently, the effective litigation of those cases is still a key challenge. Regardless positive legislative amendments, in particular – the implementation of the Article 531 in the Criminal Code of Georgia – definition of the aggravating circumstance for the crime committed on discriminatory grounds or intolerance, in practice, it is still a problem for the representatives of the investigative bodies and prosecutor’s office to define the real motive of the crimes in such cases.
It can be proved by the low statistics of the use of the norm at the stage of investigation and also in the later stage, when the court examines the case. Consequently, this norm is not properly implemented in practice that indicates the lack of qualification of investigative officers and of the state’s will to fulfill its international obligations. Among them, the State’s obligation to “undertake all appropriate means” and to “implement the policy for the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.”
It is worth to mention that the Prosecutor’s office determined the hate motive in the murder case of Vitali Safarov only after the Human Rights Center, the organization which defends interests of Vitali Safarov’s family, recommended several times that the investigation changes the qualification of the criminal case and determines the hate motive in it together with the group murder. We positively assess that the Georgian Prosecutor’s office fulfilled the recommendations, namely, the investigation added aggravating circumstances to the charge: intentional murder due to racial, religious, national or ethnic intolerance and changed the qualification of the crime into group murder.
The under-signatory organizations believe that effective litigation into Vitali Safarov’s murder case is particularly important because it refers to the murder committed with the hate motive. Similar crimes create threat and scare those groups or individuals who share the human rights values, are tolerant, have liberal approaches and raise voice in the defense of others’ rights and against discrimination.
Considering the abovementioned, the Human Rights House Tbilisi and its member organizations call on the Government of Georgia:
Human Rights House Tbilisi on behalf of member organizations:
See report „RACIAL INTOLERANCE AND XENOPHOBIA RIGHTS OF FOREIGN NATIONALS IN GEORGIA”, p. 24.
 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 2(1).