An informal coalition of NGOs monitoring the implementation of the Association Agreement (Chapters on Democracy, Rule of Law, Human Rights, Equality and Environment Protection) since 2014, welcomes the report of the European Parliament of November 14th, 2018 on the implementation of the obligations undertaken by the Agreement by Georgia.
The presented report critically assesses the state of Georgia’s democracy and addresses challenges within the EU integration process. It is of crucial importance that the findings presented in the document are duly assessed and addressed by the Georgian authorities and properly considered while planning future reforms.
The coalition welcomes the positive findings of the report in the sphere of rule of law and human rights. The report underlines steps taken by the Georgian authorities regarding the protection of labor rights, including the adoption of the Law on Labour Safety. It is important that Georgia has ratified the Convention of the Council of Europe on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. Adoption of the Environmental Impact Assessment Code is also of great importance.
In the light of existing achievements, it is necessary that the Georgian authorities do not impede progress and address the problems highlighted in the report. Namely:
- Reiterates the fact that the EU’s position coincides with the Venice Commission’s regrets the postponement of the implementation of a fully proportional electoral system until 2024;
- Recalls with regret that the Russian Federation is still continuing occupation of Georgian territories, and reiterates its unequivocal support for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia; takes note of Georgia’s European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) lawsuit against Russia on the use of coercive measures against people living in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and of the adoption by the Georgian Parliament of a resolution establishing the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili blacklist;
- European Parliament highlights that high-level elite corruption remains a serious issue and commends Georgia’s implementation of proper measures; reiterates the importance of an effective separation of powers and a clear dissociation between politics and economic interests;
- Is deeply concerned by the pressure being exerted by Turkey on Turkish residents in Georgia, as well as on educational institutions; urges the Georgian authorities to follow the case closely, ensuring that judicial procedures and any action taken are fully in line with European principles and standards;
- Recalls concerns over the political neutrality of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia and calls for democratic scrutiny of the Ministry of Interior;
- Calls for democratic scrutiny with a view to guaranteeing transparency, notably in terms of the selection, appointment, and promotion of judges as well as in disciplinary proceedings pertaining to them;
- Notes with concern that the Georgian Government has failed to adopt new legislation to improve the public’s access to information;
- Expresses concern over the lack of progress in the investigation of the abduction of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli from Tbilisi, which revealed many shortcomings as regards the functioning of the security services, including party-political interference;
- Notes the implementation of the ECtHR judgment of 28 November 2017 in relation to former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili, and stresses the importance of a clear, transparent and human-rights based policy and mechanisms for investigating, prosecuting and compensating human rights violations committed during previous administrations.
- Calls on the Georgian authorities to take further steps to uphold fundamental freedoms and human rights, notably for vulnerable groups, by fighting hate speech and discrimination, including on the labor market through an amended Labour Code;
- Calls on the Georgian authorities to take further steps to protect women against all forms of violence, sexual abuse and harassment at work and in public places, and to increase the number of women in politics;
- Calls for a strengthening of the protection of children’s rights, access to education for all children, including those with disabilities; reiterates the responsibility of the Georgian Government to thoroughly supervise the situation of children in orphanages and religious residential institutions ;
- Urges the Georgian Parliament to broaden the scope of the law to avoid exemptions from the law on occupational safety;
- Urges the Government of Georgia to improve the transparency of the public procurement system, in particular by reducing exemptions from open bidding in procurement law;
- Urges the Georgian Government to adopt a strategy for combating air pollution and takes note of the plan of the Georgian Government to further develop hydropower; calls, in this context, on the Georgian authorities to adopt and comply with EU standards in all of the projects and, in particular, to apply an open and transparent Environmental Impact Assessment procedure involving all the relevant stakeholders in the main stages of the decision-making process .
The informal coalition of NGOs fully share the assessments presented in the European Parliament and urges:
- The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Georgia to engage more actively in the implementation of the Association Agreement;
- The Government to present the Action Plan 2019 for the implementation of the Association Agreement by the end of this year; where the specific activities will be outlined in order to respond accordingly to the commitments undertaken by the Association Agreement for the upcoming year as well as the challenges stressed in the European Parliament’s report;
- The Parliament of Georgia to ensure a more effective supervision of the process of implementation of the obligations taken under the Association Agreement in the spheres of rule of law, justice, human rights, equality, social, labor rights, and child rights.