11 Years since August War and Current Challenges

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.