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OTHER / Report

The Social Justice Center assesses the human rights situation in 2021

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. Annually on this day the Social Justice Center publishes a report on the state of human rights in the country and summarizes the current year.

2021 in Georgia was marked with an ongoing political crisis, which neither the April 19 Agreement mediated by the international partners nor the 2021 local self-government elections could resolve. The agenda that was solemnly focused on the political crisis has completely missed the following issues:

  • Disturbing human and social consequences of the pandemic;
  • The dire social and economic situation in the country, which has been exacerbated by the unprecedented scale of inflation;
  • Issues related to the reforms aimed at protecting human rights and equality.

Political polarization and radicalization were particularly intense in the context of self-government elections of 2021. In the pre-election period, the campaign strategies of the parties were rather reflecting state of emergency, and completely ignoring real challenges and needs of the regions and cities. Antagonism and hostile rhetoric have taken over the political and media space, and neither public nor political means were found to alleviate this state. On the contrary, the shortcomings observed in the elections and the developments around the third president of the country that were evolving at the same time further contributed to the radicalization of the situation. The factor of Saakashvili deepened the state of polarization and weakened the political influences and electoral results of small political parties even more.

The political polarization and undemocratic internal processes inside the ruling party have substantially damaged the process of Europeanization in the country. After the appointment of Irakli Gharibashvili as a Prime Minister, the leaders of the ruling party started making disturbing statements about the country's international partners. Moreover, the relations with the European Union are clearly in crisis, which is confirmed by the harsh and alarming statements made by number of members of European Parliament.

The decisions made by the authorities after Mikheil Saakashvili's return to Georgia were deeply problematic. Meaning the decisions of restricting a right to a fair trial and refusing to provide adequate medical treatment for the prisoner on a hunger strike. Given the politicization of the existing justice system and the clan structure, it is clear that the judiciary will not be independent and fair to Mikheil Saakashvili. This fact not only violates the rights of the individual, but also makes it impossible to make a fair assessment of the past and to cultivate consent in the society about it, which is another cause of political polarization and conflict.

The tendency that after the elections the ruling political party is trying to put pressure on the newly elected opposition MPs in some Sakrebulos in order to consolidate power is disturbing. In this context, special attention should be given to the death of Nugzar Putkaradze, a newly elected member of the Batumi City Council who was pressured to act in favor of the interests of the ruling party. A similar trend is evident in Dmanisi, where there are also signs of pressure on the opposition council member, Ramiz Ramazanov.

Transcripts published in September 2021, which allegedly indicates the mass illegal eavesdropping by the State Security Service, once again uncovered the excessive role of the security services in the political system and their scale of penetration into micro-social relations that creates the heaviest sense of control and mistrust in society.

Anti-crisis aid and direct monetary compensation for those who lost their jobs as a result of pandemic restrictions that were issued on the expense of increased state debt to some extent responded to the severe social and economic crisis in the country. However, ensuring social aid for persons enrolled in informal economies and providing quick and adequate response to large-scale strikes and various types of workers' protests is still a challenge for the state. Throughout the year large-scale protests of environmentalists is visible in different regions. On sight, the local population resorted to extreme forms of protest, hunger, and even days-long picketing, to which the state responded by ignoring or repressing, restricting the right to protest and freedom of movement in the main protest localities.

The radicalization and violence of ultra-right groups has dreadfully emerged again in 2021. The tolerant policies and impunity for the violence perpetrated by these groups has been practiced by the state over the years and it has further increased the threats posed by these groups. In this regards, particularly disturbing was the mass, pre-organized violence orchestrated by the leaders of the Alt-Info group on July 5-6, 2021 during the anti-Pride rally, which resulted in the restriction of the rights and professional activities of 52 journalists, including, violence against several of them. It should be noted that the investigation of the events is still sporadic and it is not clear whether there is a political will to impose legal responsibility on the organizers of the violent gathering. Against this background, the establishment of parties and televisions by these groups and the entry of sharply anti-democratic, unconstitutional forces into the field of institutional politics are the matters of government’s political responsibility.

This year we have again saw social conflicts with religious and ethnic connotations in our country. This, unfortunately, once again did not become a locomotive for a positive transformations and substantial reforms in the policy of equality and integration for the government. Moreover, the pre-election processes in the regions with high ethnic minority presence and the experience of their political instrumentalization by the authorities have once again demonstrated the weak policy of integration of these regions, exclusion from democratic participation and the political intentions of peripheralization.

It is clear that in the context of policies of political polarization, weak democratization and integration, it becomes virtually impossible to work on important political issues related to the peaceful transformation of conflicts and moving the reconciliation policies to a new level.

Thus the deep and unresolved political crisis and polarization, the undemocratic attempts of the ruling political team to remain in power, the pandemic, the deep economic crisis and the inflation have substantially worsened the living conditions and human rights condition of our citizens. It is obvious that the state is not able to respond to various types of social conflicts and grievances with the long-term social and legal reforms, which ultimately create an unstable political and economic environment and produce social despair.

In the social report the aspects of human rights are presented thematically.


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