Joint Press Release 10th Human Rights Dialogue

16.05.2017, Tbilisi - The EU and Georgia held the tenth round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue in Tbilisi on 16 May 2017. 

The EU and Georgia welcomed the continued progress on Human Rights in Georgia. The EU took note of the ODIHR Electoral Observation Mission’s overall positive report on the October 2016 parliamentary elections and stressed the importance for effective investigation and follow-up of (pre-) electoral incidents of violence, and to further improve equal playing field when it comes to free media time and campaign financing.

Both sides agreed on the importance of a free and pluralistic media environment, and political pluralism as a prerequisite for the conduct of democratic elections. The EU encouraged Georgia to increase participation of women and national minority representatives in politics.

The EU encouraged Georgia to ensure effective implementation of its anti-discrimination law and stressed its commitment to the universality of human rights for all, regardless of religion or belief, race, sex, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or other. In this context, the EU expressed expectation that LGBTI community would be able to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) by exercising its right to assembly and that the Georgian Government would provide necessary security arrangements.

The EU welcomed the ratification by Georgia of the Istanbul Convention preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Both sides agreed on the need to improve national institutional capacities in support of gender issue. The EU welcomed progress made, and asked about measures taken to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality as well as to fight domestic violence. It inquired about actions taken to provide capacity building to law enforcement agencies to properly address and investigates domestic violence cases.

The EU noted progress achieved through the Social Dialogue on reaching a sectorial agreement between the Teacher's Union and the Ministry of Education. The EU encouraged Georgia to put into place legislation on occupational safety and health in line with commitments of the Association Agreement and stressed that its implementation and enforcement required an effective labour inspection mechanism.

The EU noted progress in addressing the situation of vulnerable children and child poverty and invited the authorities to increase efforts to improve quality of primary health care to pregnant women and new born children.

The EU noted the considerable progress made by Georgia in preventing torture and ill-treatment, and stressed the need for progress to be consolidated. The EU encourages Georgia to establish an independent and impartial investigative mechanism for the efficient investigation and prosecution of certain crimes against human rights and freedoms committed by representative of law enforcement agencies.
 
The EU reaffirmed its support to the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. Both sides agreed on the importance of unhindered access of international human rights monitoring mechanisms under international organizations to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia The EU shared its concerns for the human rights situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region South Ossetia and enquired about the situation of freedom of movement after the closure of two crossing points along the Administrative Boundary Line of Georgian region of Abkhazia.
 
Parties also agreed to continue and further develop their good cooperation on human rights related matters in multilateral fora, such as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe.

The dialogue allowed for an open, constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Georgia, on the country's commitment to achieving sustainable progress in this area and on the EU's commitments and policy framework for the promotion of Democracy and Human Rights. It is also integral part of the monitoring of the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. In line with its policy of consulting civil society ahead of its meetings on human rights, the EU met with representatives of Georgian and international NGOs prior to the dialogue as well as with representatives of international and regional organisations present in Georgia.

The EU delegation was led by Mr Dirk Schuebel, Head of Division in in the European External Action Service, while the Georgian delegation was headed by Mr. Vakhtang Makharoblishvili, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The dialogue was planned side to side with the Justice, Freedom and Security Subcommittee meeting on 17 May. The next human rights dialogue between the EU and Georgia is scheduled to take place in Brussels in 2018.