10 December Marked the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

News | Rule of Law and Human Rights 11 December 2023

10 December is International Human Rights Day. It has been 75 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.

 

Without the recognition and protection of human rights, there can be no democratic and legal state. It is impossible to create and maintain such a state without ensuring the proper realization of fundamental human rights. The fulfillment of human rights requirements is not only an indicator of the existence of a democratic order but also the main guarantee for the maintenance of such an order.

 

The emphasis should be made on freedom of expression and freedom of information, which are of key importance for the exercise of democratic control. The democratic development of the state and the prevention of authoritarianism substantively depend on this. Achieving these goals is impossible without effective public oversight of the state authorities, receiving and imparting information. The ineffectiveness of public scrutiny reduces the state authorities’ accountability to the people and significantly increases the number of arbitrary and unjust decisions it makes.

 

It is noteworthy that in 2023 several targeted attacks on freedom of expression have taken place in Georgia, for example:

 

Attempts to suppress critical opinion: In early 2023, the authorities attempted to suppress the critical opinion of civil society and the media by passing the "Russian Law".

 

Human rights defenders persecuted by Putin's regime were not allowed to enter Georgia or were indirectly forced to leave the country;

 

Freedom of expression has been recognized as a threat to state security: in the case of the training on peaceful forms of freedom of expression, the organizers and participants of the training were summoned to the State Security Service as part of the investigation, and the case was classified as confidential; 

 

The sharp deterioration in access to information: Since 2022, the current situation of access to information in Georgia has been deteriorating sharply.  The accessibility to information has declined the most in terms of the ministries and agencies under their jurisdiction, which left public information requests unanswered for the most part;

 

Ineffective response to crimes against journalists and discriminatory treatment of the media outlets: An effective and prompt response to crimes against journalists remains a challenge. To date, the organizers of the large-scale violence of 5-6 July have not been held accountable. State political officials continue to boycott media undesirable for them and restrict their access to information; 

 

Issues related to the legal status of LGBTQ+ people have disappeared from the strategic document for the protection of human rights: the National Strategy for the Protection of Human Rights for 2022-2030 approved in March 2023, and according to the available information, the draft version of the Action Plan presented on 1 November 2023, despite numerous requests, does not include issues related to the legal status of LGBTQ+ people and the challenges they face.

 

It is noteworthy that most of these issues are recognized as challenges in several reports and assessments prepared by international organizations and their representatives about Georgia. For instance, in the report of the European Commission dated 8 November 2023, in the observations of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, etc.

 

We consider that the numerous attacks by state authorities on fundamental human rights, particularly freedom of expression, are part of a populist campaign whose ultimate goal is to discredit democratic values, especially freedom of expression.

 

Despite the numerous challenges in Georgia in the area of human rights protection, we hope that the relevant state authorities will act within the framework of the obligations established by international and national law, and in the spirit of the Constitution of Georgian and the expectations that exist toward the country interested in European integration.

 

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