Most of the recommendations of the NGOs involved in the advocacy campaign were voiced during the third session of the Universal Periodic Review.
On January 26, 2021, at the United Nations, as part of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), UN member states shared Georgia’s recommendations for improving the human rights situation.
At the periodic review session, almost all the important topics shared by the civil society by the member states were voiced as recommendations.
As part of the third cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review, an online advocacy campaign involving NGOs was supported by UPR Info and the Open Society Georgia Foundation.
The session focused on the judiciary and the challenges in this area.
The steps taken in the direction of judicial reform in Georgia have been positively assessed by the states. However, the number of recommendations indicates that this topic remains a problematic issue for the international community. Thus, states call on Georgia to step up its work towards judicial independence and transparency. In line with the UK recommendation, the country should heed the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. In his speech, the US representative highlighted the situation in the judiciary, highlighted problems, including clan governance, spoke of the need for reform, the appointment of judges on merit, and called on the state to take into account the recommendations.
In addition to the above-mentioned countries, Georgia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Austria and other countries have applied to Georgia with recommendations regarding the court.
The representatives of the states positively assessed the progress made by Georgia in the fight against violence against women and discrimination and gave additional recommendations to Georgia in these areas. It should be noted that the Danish representative advised Georgia to bring the definition of sexual violence in line with the Istanbul Convention. The representative of the Parliament of Georgia noted that the issue will be discussed by the Parliament at the spring session. Other important recommendations were related to the sexual exploitation of children, including prostitution, the fight (where Georgian law does not comply with the requirements of the Lanzarote Convention), childhood and forced marriage, and the provision of adequate protection and assistance to victims.
The session also addressed the challenges of discrimination, hate crimes and the rights of LGBTQ people.
General recommendations included overcoming homophobic stigma in the society (Brazil, Chile, Argentina), effective fight against hate crimes, prevention and proper investigation (France, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Turkey, Canada, Cyprus, Cyprus, Mexico, Ecuador). The problem of the spread of hate speech (Germany, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina) and the protection or strengthening of LGBTQI human rights, as well as raising public awareness of SOGI issues (United Kingdom, Uruguay, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Israel).
In addition, Georgia received more specific recommendations during the review, including from Spain, regarding the abolition of the requirement for sex reassignment operation in order to change the gender records in identification documents. From Sweden – amendments to the Criminal Code of Georgia and the Law on the Prevention of Violence against Women and / or Domestic Violence, Protection and Assistance to Victims of Violence, so that victims’ rights are protected on any grounds, including SOGI and freed from discrimination.
The recommendations also relate to identifying, preventing and properly investigating threats posed by hate, far-right radical groups, including ensuring that LGBTQ people enjoy freedom of assembly and expression (Kingdom of the Netherlands, Venezuela, El Salvador). Luxembourg also recommended sexual and reproductive health for all women, including vulnerable women.
Member States also focused on developing social programs in the field of children’s rights and services for street children and working children. Recommendations were made on the implementation of the Code of the Rights of the Child. Particular attention was paid to the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Recommendations were voiced regarding access to education for children with disabilities.
The recommendations addressed the right to sexual and reproductive health, in particular universal access to sexual and sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive school education on sexual and reproductive health in accordance with UNESCO international standards; adequate implementation of the state strategy for maternal and neonatal health and measures to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. These recommendations were issued by the following countries: Spain, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Ethiopia, France, Iceland, Mexico, Luxembourg and Panama.
Some of the issues raised in the reporting process regarding the protection of social and economic rights were shared by the UN member states and reflected in their recommendations. Delegates pointed to Georgia’s need to ratify important international instruments, including the Additional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (El Salvador, Honduras, Luxembourg, Venezuela), the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (Bangladesh, El Salvador, Honduras). ). Along with the ratification of international instruments, Georgia has received a recommendation from the UPR to send late reports to UN treaty bodies (Romania), which is particularly important in relation to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Pact, which Georgia’s report on 2007 is due to implement.
Recommendations on labor rights addressed fundamental issues such as raising labor safety standards (Sri Lanka), gender-balanced pay (Brazil) and ensuring fair working conditions (Norway). It should be noted that the extension of the Labor Inspection mandate by the Georgian delegation was named as one of the achievements from January 1, 2021, although nothing was said about the need to equip the Labor Inspection with human and material resources, a recommendation that Georgia has already received within the UPR (Norway).
In contrast to the previous cycle of the UPR, the recommendations of the states in the current discussions included the issues raised by the EMC in its international reporting to ensure the right to adequate housing. In particular, a general recommendation was issued to guarantee adequate housing for the homeless (Venezuela), and the Government of Georgia was recommended to develop a housing regulatory framework, through relevant action plans and strategies for both the homeless and the displaced.
The organizations involved in the UN Universal Periodic Review Advocacy Campaign welcome the recommendations made by the Member States and call on Georgia to implement them.
The Universal Periodic Review Advocacy Campaign was supported by UPR Info and the Open Society Georgia Foundation.
Organizations involved in the campaign:
Office of Public Defender in Georgia
Coalition for Equality
Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association
Tolerance and Diversity Institute: TDI
Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG)
Association Hera XXI