Open Society Georgia Foundation reacts to the information disseminated about the dismantling of the housing of homeless people in an “Africa” settlement by the Tbilisi Municipal Inspection.
We believe that in a situation when Georgia does not have an adequate state policy on homelessness and effective services to address this problem, the dismantling of housing built by the homeless for self-help is a gross violation of human rights. In times when the eviction processes have been halted across the entire country amid a pandemic, this decision of the Tbilisi City Hall’s presents dismantling only in the framework of the construction offense, disregarding its human rights obligations and putting evictees in an unequal position. This is especially drastic in the context of the aggravated pandemic. In a situation, when despite the appeals to stay home, thousands of people have no shelter to protect their families, young children or people with disabilities from the pandemic, Tbilisi City Hall has decided to increase the number of homeless people and leave dozens of families on the streets without any guarantees, facing aggravated danger to their health. We call on Tbilisi City Hall to stop the demolition of self-sustaining buildings in “Africa” settlement, not to violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to housing in these buildings, and to guarantee decent housing for these people.
“This is the basic human rights standard that when eviction takes place, in the case of an illegal construction or in the case of debt, this eviction must have two sides: one is part of the offense and the other is part of the protection of human rights as a result of the eviction. If any part is excluded, than that decision is illegal. And today, the City Hall’s decision is clearly illegal because we see people being left out on the streets. This decision did not involve any municipality that would undertake resettling these people. Today, Georgia does not have a state policy on homelessness at all and does not have the services that these people could use. I would like to respond to the mayor’s statement about the shelter. This is the only service for the homeless, however this shelter is not intended for families and is not intended for long-term residence. This is a night shelter for individuals. ” – Anano Tsintsabadze, Open Society Foundation.