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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) helps protect and promote all human rights around the world. Headquartered in Geneva, the Office is also present in over 40 countries. OHCHR works to ensure the enforcement of universally recognized human rights norms, including through promoting both the universal ratification and implementation of human rights treaties and respect for the rule of law. It also aims to remove obstacles to the full realization of all human rights and to prevent or stop human rights abuses. OHCHR’s fundamental goals - to protect human rights and empower all people to realize their rights - are driven by the need to address critical human rights challenges in the world today, namely: poverty, discrimination, conflict, impunity, democratic deficits, and institutional weaknesses.
The OHCHR presence in Georgia is established within the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Georgia to assist the Government and the civil society in strengthening national capacities to promote and protect human rights. Furthermore, the OHCHR presence is aimed at further incorporating human rights based approaches in UNCT development programming in Georgia.
• Raising awareness and knowledge of the Government, civil society and the public in general on international human rights standards; improving the implementation of these standards in national legislation, policies and practices, in particular in the area of administration of justice;
• Increasing policy level attention to human rights of disempowered, vulnerable and conflict-affected groups;
• Improving the implementation of observations made by monitoring bodies created under international human rights instruments to which Georgia is a party, as well as of recommendations of thematic representatives and rapporteurs upon their visits to Georgia.
Activities conducted in 2008-2009
In 2008 and 2009, trainings and technical assistance were provided to the Government aimed at strengthening national and local capacities to translate obligations under international human rights instruments into effective laws, regulations and policies. A number of human rights trainings were conducted for various target groups including representatives of the Bar Association, staff of the Constitutional Court, Trainers of the Penitentiary and Probation Training Centre, staff of the Public Defender, journalists, NGOs and communities of the Shida Kartli Region affected by August 2008 hostilities:
• Six training workshops on international and regional human rights standards and protection mechanisms for defense lawyers were conducted on 16-18 June 2008 in Telavi, 20-22 March 2009 in Gudauri, 6-8 April 2009 in Tbilisi, 19-20 June 2009 in Bazaleti, 14-16 July 2009 in Batumi and 20-21 November 2009 in Gori. More then 100 members of the Georgian Bar Association from various regions of Georgia had the opportunity to undergo specific training on civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights and UN complaint mechanisms with the assistance of national and international consultants.
• One training on human rights standards for the staff of the Constitutional Court of Georgia was held on 13-14 November 2009 in Batumi and one training for the judges of first instance and appeals courts of Tbilisi took place on 18-20 December 2009 in Gudauri.
• Two training workshops on international penitentiary standards were held for trainers from the Penitentiary and Probation Training Centre, staff of the Public Defender, representatives of prison commissions and NGOs on 4-6 April in Rustavi and 12-14 June 2008 in Tbilisi. The UN Manual on Human Rights and Penitentiary Institutions (Package for Prison Officials No:11, No:11/Add.1, No:11, Add.2) served as a basis for the trainings.
• Fifteen members of the Parliament of Georgia and relevant staff were trained in International Human Rights Law on 4-20 November 2008 under a joint OHCHR, UNICEF and UNIFEM project.
• Three training workshops on international and regional human rights standards and state obligations under international treaties have been conducted for journalists from Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Batumi, Gori, Telavi and Gurjaani and representatives of the Office of the Public Defender on 24-26 June in Batumi, 15-17 October 2008 in Signagi and 21-23 January 2009 in Gudauri. The attendees had the opportunity to get acquainted with various issues related to human rights including: UN human rights standards - conventions, state obligations, institutional mechanisms for human rights protection; freedom of expression and access to information; human rights and law enforcement agencies; rights of vulnerable groups in need of special protection; freedom of information versus national security; labor rights.
• Two awareness raising trainings on human rights was held on 15-16 and 17-18 October 2009 in Gori for 44 local community representatives from the conflict affected villages of the Shida Kartli region. The attendees were briefed on the functioning of the human rights protection system in Georgia, on legal aspects of domestic violence, on how to access public information and participate in decision-making process at local level, on social and economic entitlements (state assistance for vulnerable individuals/groups and conflict-affected population) and local actors (including representatives of state structures, international organizations and local NGOs) that they can approach when needed.
• In the framework of the ACT (assisting communities together) Project OHCHR supported a project developed by the NGO Regional Development Centre. Sunday schools were opened in Telavi and Kvareli with the purpose of raising awareness on international human rights standards among teenagers.
The following OHCHR publications were translated into Georgian, published and widely distributed to state institutions, libraries, universities, Office of the Public Defender and NGOs:
- Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society
- From Exclusion to Equality: Realizing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Human Rights and Prisons - A Compilation of International Human Rights Instruments concerning the Administration of Justice, Professional Training Series N: 11, 11/Add.1, 11/Add.2
- Human Rights: Handbook for Parliamentarians;
- UN Complaint Procedures, Fact Sheet N:7
- Handbook on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons: Implementing the "Pinheiro Principles"
- UN Treaty Bodies Concluding Observations in Response to Georgia’s 2nd and 3rd Periodic Reports Under HRs Treaties
The following publications are currently under translation and expected to be published in 2010:
- Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring, Professional Training Series N:7
- Manual on Human Rights for Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers, Professional Training Series N:9
- The Istanbul Protocol: Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment Punishment, Professional Training Series N:8, Rev1
OHCHR continued to raise awareness and help build capacities of national human rights institutions and civil society through human rights education programmes and dissemination of relevant materials. The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee on Georgia’s periodic report were presented to and distributed among representatives of the Government of Georgia, international organizations and civil society. OHCHR’s advice to the Government of Georgia on the treatment in custody of vulnerable individuals and the application of the principle of non-refoulement to countries where there is a threat of torture was reflected in the 2008-2009 National Plan against Torture. Further engagement with the UNCT remained one of the key priorities, as well. Improvements in the capacity of the UN Country Team to apply a human rights-based approach to programme design and delivery was reflected in relevant documentation.
On 25-28 February 2008 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Georgia. Issues raised during her visit included conditions at penitentiary institutions, juvenile justice, independence of judiciary, living conditions of IDPs and the investigation of the 7th November events. The High Commissioner called on the Georgian authorities to establish a national preventive mechanism under the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture, to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their families, International Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and International Convention for the protection of all persons from Forced Disappearance. She also encouraged the Government to send an open invitation to the UN human rights special procedures.
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Activities carried out in 2006/2007
• In October 2006, capacity building workshops on treaty reporting were held for Government, civil society and media representatives. Selected number of participants representing media, NGOs and the Office of the Public Defender were further trained in November 2006 in OHCHR, Geneva.
• Workshop on Human Rights Based Approach and UNDAF mid-year review from a human rights perspective was organized in January 2007 with the participation of UN staff and representatives of the Government.
• OHCHR participated in a UNICEF training for NGOs and the Child Rights Centre under the Ombudsman's Office, held in Tbilisi on 4-8 June, 2007, on child rights monitoring. OHCHR contributed with expertise on how to draft and submit alternative NGO reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in connection with the 3rd periodic report which the Georgian Government had submitted in February 2007.
• OHCHR convened, on 16-19 July,2007 in Gudauri, Georgia, a workshop on drafting the third periodic report of Georgia on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) with 25 participants from 9 ministries, 2 parliamentary committees and the Public Defender's Office. The workshop was facilitated by two international experts, members of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).
• On 20 July 2007, OHCHR convened in Tbilisi, with the same facilitators, a workshop for 20 NGO representatives on alternative reporting to CESCR. The objective of the workshop was to raise awareness of international human rights instruments, their monitoring mechanisms and the specific role of NGOs; enhance understanding of the principles of equality, non-discrimination and participation in implementing ICESCR ; and increase knowledge of the role of civil society in monitoring progress of ICESCR implementation.
• OHCHR was invited as observer to the Interagency Coordination Council against Torture, Inhuman, Cruel and Degrading Treatment or Punishment created on 20 June 2007 by a Presidential Decree. The office actively participated in the substantive meetings of the council which started on 6 September 2007 and submitted written comments on the draft of a 2008-9 National Action Plan on Prevention of Torture. The council is expected to discuss the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism, an obligation of Georgia under the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture.
• In October-December, 2007, OHCHR is planning to conduct 3 workshops aimed at raising awareness of international human rights standards among legal professionals, including defense lawyers, assistants to Supreme Court judges, representatives of regional Ombudsman's offices and lawyers' NGOs. The two local experts invited to facilitate the workshops will use as a basis for the workshops an OHCHR publication, Professional Training Series no. 9: Human Rights in the Administration of Justice, a Manual on Human Rights for Judges, Procesutors and Lawyers.
• UN human rights publications were delivered to the library of the Public Defender's Office.
• Information on the ongoing reform of the UN human rights system, development of new human rights standards, as well as reports related to Georgia were regularly disseminated to the Government, civil society and UN agencies present in Georgia.
Mr. Vladimir Shkolnikov, Senior Human Rights Adviser for South Caucasus
Ms. Ekaterina Kristesashvili, National Program Officer for Georgia
Ms. Tamar Bekauri, Administrative Assistant
Address: 9 Eristavi str., Tbilisi 0179, Georgia
Tel: + 995 32 225 1126
Fax: + 995 32 225 0271/72