2021 could be characterized by many difficulties and challenges. In this regard, the most important events were related to the state of the electoral environment and the media, and questions about country’s movement towards the democracy arose many times over the year.
July 5 was one of the hardest days of the year. On this day, due to adhering to the principles of professional duty and freedom of expression, 53 journalists were injured and there was even a casualty. Following the incident, human rights organizations with the help of the Open Society Foundation launched a free legal aid program aiming to assist journalists and civil society activists.
With the assistance of the Foundation, up to 10 election-related organizations were involved in monitoring the pre-election process. On the election day, they monitored the process, recorded the irregularities, and informed the public about the results of their observations through the media center.
In 2021, our work was particularly productive in the area of labor rights. With the help of our partners, we offered free assistance to workers whose rights had been violated; we have developed vision of the reform for the social protection of informal workers; we helped the trade unions with strengthening and attracting new members; we made efforts to draw the attention of civil and political society to the protection of the rights of healthcare workers.
In addition, we encouraged urban activists, neighborhoods, to defend their rights in public and green spaces, to work on sustainable environmental and urban policies; We encouraged public discussions on sustainable development and civic participation.
We worked on a dignified housing policy; we prepared a legislative vision for the creation of a housing fund, using artistic tools, we tried to stimulate a discussion on the structural causes of homelessness and methods of combating them.
An important achievement of the year was the presentation of a unified position of civil society in the framework of the UN Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights. As a result of this activity, on January 26, 2021, the UN member states voiced as recommendations almost all the topics shared by civil society.
Through the efforts of the Foundation and its partners, significant steps have been taken to improve the environment for people with disabilities. The “Action Plan for Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 2021-2024” has been produced and it was approved at the meeting of the Government of Georgia. From March 1, 2021, the technical regulation on national access standards will come into force, which aims to improve the living and physical environment for people with disabilities.
Adult palliative care services across the country were evaluated, forming the basis of the 4-year palliative care strategy. Despite the pandemic, children’s hospice Firefly World, established with the support of the Foundation, provided services for up to 100 children were served at home and at the hospice premises.
An academic course for harm reduction has been developed, which will be introduced in several universities, as well as a professional education course, which will be implemented at the Police Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
With the support of partner organizations, it became possible to continue to manage the condition of people with mental health problems exacerbated by the pandemic. In collaboration with various services, a mental health chain has been established providing specialized basic mental health services.
In 2021, a free legal aid program was extended to financial liabilities and citizens unemployed as a result of the covenant pandemic. In the process of relations with citizens, loan-credit agreements between banks, microfinance organizations and citizens were examined, which may become the basis for legislative changes.
Dozens of young people were able to develop and employ professional skills under the EU-supported @LINKS project.
There have been no steps made forward in the direction of European integration. To date, there is no Association Agenda, the implementation of which would allow the Foundation and its partners to assess the degree of accountability of the government to its Western partners.
The Foundation thanks the coalitions, partner organizations, initiative groups and citizens that implemented these activities.