1. The Human Rights Committee
considered the initial report of Georgia (CCPR/C/100/Add.1) at its 1564th,
1565th and 1566th meetings, on 26 and 27 March 1997, and adopted at its
1583rd meeting, on 9 April 1997, the following concluding observations:
2. The Committee notes with
interest the initial report submitted by Georgia and welcomes the dialogue
it has had with a high-level delegation. It notes with satisfaction that
the delegation of Georgia was able to supplement the report and provide
clarifications concerning the legal provisions in force and their scope,
and on the reform that is under way, which has enabled the Committee to
have a somewhat clearer picture of the human rights situation in Georgia.
B. Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Covenant
3. The Committee notes that
Georgia is still experiencing the influence of the totalitarian past,
which has created feelings of mistrust and insecurity among the citizens.
In addition, the State party is still suffering from the effects of conflicts
in South Ossetia (1992) and Abkhazia (1993-1994), which gave rise to serious
violations of human rights, including massive population displacements,
and the Government is having difficulty exercising its jurisdiction in
those areas in respect of the protection of human rights.
C. Positive aspects
4. The Committee notes the
assurances given by the head of State that the enjoyment of human rights
would become a priority in Georgia.
5. The entry into force of
the 1995 Constitution - even though it does not fully reproduce the rights
guaranteed under the Covenant - and the establishment of the Constitutional
Court, to which any citizen alleging a violation of his constitutional
rights can have recourse, are viewed by the Committee as encouraging signs.
6. The Committee notes with
satisfaction the abolition of the internal passport (propiska),
which was an impediment to freedom of movement as provided for under article
12 of the Covenant.
7. The reform of the Criminal
Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, coupled with the restructuring of
the Prokuratura with the aim of limiting its role to that of a
prosecuting body stripped of the prerogatives it formerly enjoyed, which
enabled it to interfere in judicial decisions, are viewed by the Committee
as signs of progress.
8. While regretting the under-representation
of women in the organs of government and the inequalities which persist
in the economic and social spheres, the Committee is pleased that discrimination
against women before the law and in education has lessened.
9. The Committee welcomes
the State party's efforts to afford more active protection for the human
rights of minorities with a view to guaranteeing them the free expression
of their cultures and use of their languages.
D. Principal subjects of concern
10. The Committee deplores
the fact that no remedies were available to victims of events occurring
in 1992, 1993 and 1994 enabling them to seek redress for violations of
their rights as provided under article 2 of the Covenant. In that connection,
the Committee notes that the State party was bound by the provisions of
the Covenant from the date on which the country became independent, and
hence also during the period preceding its declaration of accession, since
it must be considered to have succeeded to the obligations undertaken
by the former Soviet Union, of which it was an integral part until the
time it proclaimed its independence.
11. The Committee regrets
that the Covenant, although directly applicable under domestic law, is
not invoked before the courts. In addition, it considers that the failure
to nominate anyone to the post of Ombudsman, which was established in
May 1996, denies an effective remedy to persons alleging a violation of
their fundamental rights.
12. The Committee regrets
that, in spite of the elimination of inequalities before the law, women
continue to be the victims of inequal treatment and discrimination in
the political, economic and social spheres. It further notes with concern
that methods of contraception other than abortion are very difficult to
13. The Committee fears that
the moratorium that has been instituted on the carrying out of death sentences
is a weak palliative. In spite of the reduction in the number of offences
carrying the death penalty, these are still too numerous and some of them
do not come within the category of the most serious crimes envisaged in
article 6 of the Covenant. It also deplores the fact that some capital
sentences appear to have been imposed in cases where confessions were
obtained under torture or duress or following trials where the guarantees
provided under article 14 of the Covenant were not respected, particularly
the right to have a case reviewed by a higher court (art. 14, para. 5,
of the Covenant).
14. The Committee is deeply
concerned by cases of torture inflicted on individuals deprived of their
liberty, including for the purpose of extracting confessions. It deplores
the fact that these and other acts of torture usually go unpunished and
that in many cases a lack of confidence in the authorities keeps the victims
from lodging complaints.
15. The Committee deplores
the abuse of pre-trial detention and police custody. The limits placed
on those measures by the Constitution, are often not observed in practice,
in disregard also of the provisions of article 9 of the Covenant.
16. The Committee is deeply
concerned at the disastrous prison situation; crowding, poor sanitary
conditions and lack of medical care have resulted in a high rate of infectious
disease and a very alarming mortality rate, in particular among juvenile
detainees. The Committee stresses that the State party does not comply
with the provisions of article 10 of the Covenant according to which all
persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with
respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
17. The Committee is concerned
at the continuing close relationship between the procurator and the judges;
it fears that, in the absence of any statute enforcing the independence
of the judiciary, the impartiality of decisions cannot be guaranteed and
that the executive may exert pressure on the judiciary.
18. The Committee notes with
disquiet that court proceedings do not meet the conditions required by
article 14 of the Covenant for example, although the law provides for
access to the assistance of counsel, in practice this is made difficult
because of excessive bureaucracy.
19. The Committee regrets
that, despite the elimination of the propiska, there remain obstacles
to freedom of movement within the country. It notes with concern that
there continues to be a great deal of corruption in this area.
20. The Committee emphasizes
that the vague and overly general characterizations of crimes and the
difficulty of determining their constituent elements (insubordination,
sabotage, etc.) have allowed political opponents of the Government to
21. The Committee regrets
that because of the absence of legislation concerning the exercise of
the freedom of association, it has not been possible to establish free
trade unions so that workers may exercise their rights under article 22
of the Covenant.
22. The Committee is concerned
at the increase in the number of children affected by poverty and social
dislocation and the concomitant increase in the number of street children,
delinquents and drug addicts.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
23. The Committee invites
the Government to provide all individuals under its jurisdiction with
an effective remedy and compensation for violations of their human rights
found to have occurred since independence in 1991.
24. The Committee recommends
that the State party appoint an ombudsman as soon as possible and that
procedures be established to give effect to the Committee's findings under
the Optional Protocol. The Committee urges the Government to ensure the
legitimacy and authority of the Committee for Human Rights and Ethnic
Relations and to define the relationship between that Committee and the
25. The Committee urges the
authorities to continue the moratorium on executions and to continue the
serious efforts that have been made towards abolishing the death penalty.
26. The Committee recommends
that the State Party undertake systematic and impartial investigations
into all complaints of ill-treatment and torture, bring to trial persons
charged with violations as a result of these investigations, and compensate
the victims. Confessions obtained under duress should be systematically
excluded from judicial proceedings and, given the admission of the State
party that torture had been widespread in the past, all convictions based
on confessions allegedly made under torture should be reviewed.
27. The Committee recommends
that detention and pre-trial detention should be carried out in accordance
with the requirements of the Constitution and the Covenant. It stresses,
inter alia, that all persons who are arrested must immediately
have access to counsel, be examined by a doctor without delay and be able
to submit promptly an application to a judge to rule on the legality of
28. The Committee urges the
State party to take urgent steps to improve the situation in prisons,
in particular, sanitary conditions. It invites the State party to cut
down on the use of imprisonment as a punishment for minor violations and
on pre-trial detention for excessive periods.
29. The Committee recommends
that the authorities put an end, once and for all, to the restrictions
on freedom of movement within the country and on the right to leave the
30. The Committee urges the
State party to enact a law guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary
and providing for its total autonomy vis-à-vis the procurator and the
31. The Committee urges the
State party to guarantee the rights set forth in article 14 of the Covenant,
in particular by remedying the deficiencies with regard to the exercise
of the right to defence and the right to appeal. The creation of an independent
legal profession is, in the Committee's view, a necessary precondition
for the effective enjoyment of such rights.
32. The Committee earnestly
recommends that the State party, in connection with the revision of the
Penal Code, repeal those provisions which make it possible to prosecute
political opponents for their beliefs under cover of upholding the law.
33. The Committee invites
the State party to enact laws making it possible for trade unions to be
formed and to carry out their activities freely in defence of the rights
34. The Committee urges the
State party to take urgent steps to protect children in accordance with
the provisions of article 24 of the Covenant.
35. The Committee recommends
that educational and training programmes be drawn up with a view to developing
a culture of respect for human rights in all sectors of the population,
inter alia, judges, the security forces and prison personnel. These
programmes should also emphasize that women are entitled to full enjoyment
of their fundamental rights.
36. The Committee recommends
that the report of the State party, together with the concluding observations
adopted by the Committee, should be widely disseminated and that the text
of the Covenant be disseminated in all languages commonly used in the