On 15 June 2015, the EU and Georgia held the eighth round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue, this year in Tbilisi. The EU delegation was led by Ms Elisabeth Tison, Head of the Human Rights Strategy and Policy Implementation Division in the European External Action Service, while the Georgian delegation was headed by Mr Gigi Gigiadze, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. 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 expressed its sympathies to those affected by the recent floods and its solidarity with Georgia in its national mourning.
The dialogue led to an open and constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Georgia and on the country’s commitment to achieving sustainable progress in this area. Following up on developments since the last dialogue in June 2014, discussions focused on elections, reform of the judiciary and law enforcement system, combatting torture and ill-treatment, anti-discrimination and rights of persons belonging to the minorities, labourrights, children’s rights, gender equality, human rights situation in Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia including the rights of internally displaced persons and international cooperation.
The EU welcomed the good level of cooperation and coordination on multilateral issues as well as the Georgian government’s efforts in reinforcing human rights policies and institutions. The EU welcomed the work of the Public Defender’s Office as well as the significant improvement of criminal polices, including the notable reduction in prison deaths and improved conditions in temporary detention isolators, efforts in fight against domestic violence and discrimination. The EU encouraged the Georgian authorities to further strengthen the institutional setting and the independence of the judiciary, including the introduction of an independent investigativemechanism. The EU welcomed Georgia’s ongoing work to combat torture, but stressed the need for additional efforts to counter impunity, including past abuses not only regarding ill-treatment but also violation of property rights and abuses of plea bargain. In response the Georgian side briefed on the work carried out by the newly established Department within the Chief Prosecutor’s office addressing the human rights abuses, including ill treatment and violation of property rights.
The EU called on Georgia to address the recommendations of the OSCE/OIDHR recommendations in good time before elections 2016. It also stressed the need to continue implementing the 2013 labour code and ensure meaningful social dialogue. It welcomed efforts made to address gender equality, and encouraged Georgia to accelerate its efforts in this area, enabling men and women to participate in public life on equal footing. The need to adopt and implement the new Strategy and Action Plan on Civic Integration was also stressed.
The dialogue was planned side to side with the Justice, Freedom and Security subcommittee on 16 June. The next human rights dialogue between the EU and Georgia is scheduled to take place in Brussels in 2016.