Georgia’s human rights record remained uneven in 2010. The government evicted hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from state-owned collective centers in Tbilisi, the capital, often leaving them homeless or without adequate compensation. State actors hindered activists’ right to assembly and attacked and harassed journalists and opposition newspapers. Municipal elections on May 30 largely met international standards, but observers also identified significant shortcomings.
More than two years after the August 2008 Georgian-Russian conflict over South Ossetia, the government has not effectively investigated international human rights and humanitarian law violations. Russia strengthened its military presence in and effective control over Georgia’s breakaway regions. The European Union started negotiations with Georgia to deepen economic and political ties.
On October 13, the Atlantic Council Task Force on Georgia, co-chaired by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Lindsey Graham, released a major new report on Georgia at an event held on Capitol Hill, arguing for intensified domestic reform and a new sense of common purpose and clarity from the United States and Europe to work toward a democratic Georgia embedded in the institutions of the West.
Georgia faces critical tests at home–parliamentary elections in 2012 and a presidential contest in 2013—and mounting external pressure as Russia occupies Abkhazia and South Ossetia and seeks to destabilize Georgia. Against this background, Georgia must demonstrate its commitment to further its democracy, and the United States and Europe must redouble their efforts to support Georgia, including at the May 2012 Chicago NATO summit. The task force report, Georgia in the West: A Policy Road Map to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic Future, lays out a series of recommendations to support those ends.
Annual report: International Religious Freedom
The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally enforced these protections. There were reports of isolated incidents including concerns regarding the ability of members of minority religions in penitentiaries to worship and a lack of action by government entities in regards to licensing applications made by members of minority religions.
The government generally respected religious freedom in law and in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period. As in the previous reporting period, the implementation of new policies to further promote religious freedom slowed. Systemic problems remained largely unchanged, such as the return and maintenance of disputed church property claimed by religious minority groups and currently held by government entities, legal registration of religious denominations, and unequal legal frameworks. However, the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance took steps during the reporting period to make access to penitentiary institutions equitable for representatives of all religious confessions and to provide for religious worship by inmates of all confessions.