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.
The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, is the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters. Established in 1990, the commission has played a leading role in the adoption of constitutions that conform to the standards of Europe’s constitutional heritage.
Initially conceived as a tool for emergency constitutional engineering, the commission has become an internationally recognised independent legal think-tank. Today it contributes to the dissemination of the European constitutional heritage, based on the continent’s fundamental legal values while continuing to provide “constitutional first-aid” to individual states. The Venice Commission also plays a unique and unrivalled role in crisis management and conflict prevention through constitution building and advice.
The Commission meets in plenary four times a year – in March, June, October and December – in Venice, in Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista.
You can see Venice Commission’s forthcoming opinion on the new Georgian legislation: http://www.venice.coe.int/site/dynamics/N_Opinion_ef.asp?L=E&CID=40
Political Rights Score: 4
Civil Liberties Score: 3
Status: Partly Free
The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in South Ossetia or Abkhazia, which are examined in separate reports.
Georgia’s civil liberties rating improved from 4 to 3 due to a reduction in the political instability the country confronted in the aftermath of the 2008 Russian invasion, as well as greater media diversity, including the launch of satellite broadcasts by the opposition television station Maestro.
In 2010, Georgia began to recover from the conflict and political tumult of previous years, which among other effects had knocked its reform ambitions off course. Local elections held in May 2010 were considered improvements over earlier polls, and the campaign took place in a generally open media environment. Georgia’s relations with Russia remained poor in 2010, with Russian troops still occupying a considerable portion of Georgia’s internationally recognized territory.