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The functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia

Doc. 13588: collection of written amendments | Doc. 13588 | Final version

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ADraft Resolution

1The Parliamentary Assembly welcomes the smooth conduct of the 2012 parliamentary and 2013 presidential elections in Georgia, which, despite a polarised and acrimonious election environment, were overall democratic and in line with European standards. These elections mark the first time in Georgia’s recent history that the political power has changed hands peacefully and democratically through the ballot box. All the political forces should be congratulated on this achievement, which should be an example for the whole region.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Ivan POPESCU, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Gvozden Srećko FLEGO

Votes: 16 in favor 101 against 9 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 1, replace the first sentence with the following sentence: "The Parliamentary Assembly welcomes the smooth handover of power after the 2012 parliamentary elections, despite a polarised and acrimonious election environment. The Assembly particularly welcomes the 2013 presidential elections in Georgia, which were democratic and in line with European standards."

Explanatory note

The election environment in 2012 was not free and fair. The vote was also marred by fraud. However, following the landslide victory of the opposition, the transfer of power was indeed peaceful. The 2013 presidential elections - including its pre-electoral environment - were judged free and fair and meeting European democratic standards.

2The otherwise smooth handover of power was accompanied by a polarised and antagonistic political climate, especially during the period of cohabitation between the then President Milheil Saakashvili and the Georgian Dream coalition government. The Assembly regrets that these tensions sometimes overshadowed the many positive changes that were taking place in the democratic environment of Georgia. The emergence of a strong and experienced opposition, combined with a well-organised ruling coalition, has strengthened the role of the parliament and parliamentarianism in the political system in Georgia. The parliament has held ministers accountable, modified government policies and, on several occasions, used its right of initiative to introduce new legislation. Moreover, on a number of occasions, it has managed to find consensus solutions to major political challenges. In the view of the Assembly, these are important developments and a major evolution of the political environment in the country.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 2, replace the first and second sentences with the following sentences: "The otherwise smooth handover of power was accompanied by a polarised and antagonistic political climate caused by the oppression of the opposition and the free media during the 2012 electoral campaign and widespread human rights abuses and corruption under the previous government, which led to more than 20,000 citizen complaints being lodged within the first 2 months of the new government. The period of cohabitation between the then President Mikheil Saakashvili and the Georgian Dream coalition government was challenging. The Assembly regrets that tensions sometimes overshadowed the many positive changes that took place in the democratic environment of Georgia, but recognises the efforts made by the Georgian authorities to overcome this polarisation by offering an amnesty to former government officials accused of abuses and by maintaining continuity within the professional civil service. The Assembly also notes the successes of this historic period of cohabitation with numerous bipartisan initiatives approved by the Parliament such as the Resolution on Foreign Policy of March 2013."

Explanatory note

The cohabitation demonstrated the maturity of the political system. Cohabitation did not paralyse Georgia; this was a period of reforms and many of the fundamental bills passed were bipartisan. The new government ensured the continuity of the civil service. As for the amnesty for former government officials, it was rejected by the opposition.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 2, after the second sentence, insert the following sentence: "UNM has reported that several thousand of its activists and supporters were regularly interrogated and intimidated by various investigative agencies (some up to 30 times). A number of major opposition figures, including members of parliament, were violently attacked."

Explanatory note

This amendment mirrors numerous concerns raised by the main opposition party, that its supporters were subjected to intimidation by the law enforcement institutions. These reports are confirmed by local NGOs, including ISFED, GYLA and Transparency International. Reflection of opposition concerns is a standard objective of similar resolutions.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 2, after the second sentence, insert the following sentence: "It has to be noted that 2 years on, almost the entire leadership of the former ruling party has been arrested or is under prosecution or investigation: former PM and UNM Secretary General, Vano Merabishvili, former Defence Minister, Bacho Akhalaia, and former Tbilisi mayor and UNM campaign mangager, Gigi Ugulava, are in prison (pre-trial detention). The former President, Mikheil Saakashvili, has also been charged and sentenced to pre-trial detention in absentia as well as former Minister of Defence, David Keserashvili, and former Minister of Justice, Zurab Adeishvili."

Explanatory note

This amendment aims to state what is undisputed: prosecution en masse of opposition figures and, in particular, frequent application of pre-trial detention against them (noted in the report) has become a serious sign of Georgia's democratic backsliding.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI, Ms Tinatin BOKUCHAVA, Mr Bernd FABRITIUS, Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Ms Chiora TAKTAKISHVILI

Votes: 74 in favor 53 against 7 abstentions

In paragraph 2, delete the fourth sentence.

Explanatory note

Key ministers (such as Interior, Foreign Affairs or Finance) have continuously refused to turn up in parliament. Both the opposition and the local non-governmental institutions have regarded this as a lack of the government's oversight. Thus commending the Parliament for holding Ministers accountable and for changing governmental policies would diverge from objective reality.

3The Assembly welcomes the comprehensive reforms announced by the Georgian authorities, including constitutional reform, to further strengthen the democratic institutions in the country and to ensure a genuinely independent judiciary and an adversarial justice system. In the view of the Assembly, it is important that all political forces are consulted on, and can contribute to, these planned reforms.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, Ms Chiora TAKTAKISHVILI, Ms Ana GUŢU, Mr Volodymyr ARIEV, Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI

Votes: 55 in favor 72 against 7 abstentions

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 3, insert the following paragraph:

"The Assembly expresses its concern over the reported interference by the former Prime Minister and the founder of the ruling coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in the Georgian Government's decision making. Not holding any office since his resignation in 2013, Mr Ivanishvili stands outside the constitutional framework. Senior ministers, including the Prime Minister, have publicly confirmed that they regularly "consult" Mr Ivanishvili."

Explanatory note

The amendment aims to highlight the fact indisputed by the Government -that former PM Ivanishvili continues to remain the Government's top decision-maker. This is clearly in conflict with the Constitution and basic logic of any democratic government. Only individuals holding elected offices should govern.

4With regard to the reform of the Constitution, the Assembly:
4.1calls on the parliament to ensure that the changes to the Constitution address all the remaining recommendations of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) on the 2010 Constitution as well as the concerns of the Assembly regarding the remaining ambiguities in the division of powers and the systemic vulnerability to inter-institutional conflict;
4.2urges all political forces to agree on an election system that can count on a broad consensus and that strengthens the pluralistic nature of the country’s political institutions. In this respect, the Assembly invites all stakeholders to consider the proportional–regional election system, based on open lists, which seems to have the agreement of most, if not all, political forces in the country;
4.3urges all the parties concerned to refrain from adopting amendments with contentious or divisive language or that would undermine the rights of any minority in the country;
4.4welcomes the establishment and composition of the State Commission for Constitutional Reform as a clear sign that the authorities wish to amend the Constitution in an consensual and inclusive process and calls on all stakeholders to contribute constructively to this process;
4.5recommends that the State Commission for Constitutional Reform closely co-operate with the Venice Commission in the drawing up of the constitutional amendments and request a formal opinion by the Venice Commission on the proposed amendments before they are adopted by parliament.
5The Assembly recalls its concerns about the independence of the judiciary and administration of justice in Georgia. In that respect, it welcomes the adoption of a comprehensive reform package for the judiciary and justice system that aims to ensure genuine independence of the judiciary and a truly adversarial justice system. The Assembly welcomes signals that the judiciary is now working more independently. However, it also notes that the proceedings in sensitive legal cases, including against former government members, have revealed continuing vulnerabilities and deficiencies in the justice system that need to be addressed. Moreover, it regrets that the Georgian Parliament could not find the consensus necessary to elect all of its six members in the High Council of Justice. Further reforms of the judiciary, including of the prosecution services, are therefore necessary. In this respect, the Assembly:

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Ivan POPESCU, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Gvozden Srećko FLEGO

If adopted, amendment 26 falls.

Votes: 29 in favor 98 against 8 abstentions

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 5 with the following paragraph:

"The Assembly reiterates the importance of continued reforms to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the administration of justice in Georgia. In that respect, it welcomes the adoption of a comprehensive reform package for the judiciary and the justice system that aims to ensure genuine independence of the judiciary and a truly adversarial justice system. The Assembly welcomes signals that the judiciary is now working more independently. However, continuing vulnerabilities and deficiencies in the justice system need to be addressed. The Assembly welcomes the continued strong commitment of all relevant authorities to continue reform and to implement adopted reforms. However, it regrets that the Georgian Parliament could not find the consensus necessary to elect all of its six members in the High Council of Justice. Further reforms of the judiciary, including of the prosecution services, are therefore necessary. In this respect, the Assembly:"

Explanatory note

Judicial reform is ongoing in Georgia and is a very high priority for the government. High profile legal cases have indeed been sensitive but they have been heavily scrutinised by international observers and have so far been found to be fair and transparent.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5, fourth sentence, after the words "former government members", insert the following words: "and opposition figures".

Explanatory note

The amendment aims to clarify that criminal cases were brought mainly against the active opposition figures (for example, former PM and Secretary General of UNM, etc.)

In amendment 26, replace the words "and opposition figures" with the following words: "(some of them being leading opposition members)".

5.1suggests that the parliament considers a further amendment to the organic law of Georgia on the courts of general jurisdiction that would require at least two rounds of voting, with sufficient time for negotiations in-between, before lowering the threshold from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority to elect the parliament’s appointees to the High Council of Justice. In the view of the Assembly, this will facilitate and encourage agreement between the ruling majority and the opposition on the members of the High Council of Justice elected by the parliament;
5.2calls on the parliament to contemplate considerably lowering the three-year probation period for judges to be appointed to a life term of office, in order to bring it into line with European standards;

In the draft resolution, delete paragraph 5.2.

Explanatory note

European countries have a wide latitude when determining the period of probation which may range from 3 years (Hungary) to 5 years (Bulgaria). The latter is the case in a developed democracy like Germany. A reduction of the probation period will result in the reduction of appraisals and increases the risk of arbitrary and biased decisions.

5.3urges the parliament to amend the law on administrative offences with a view to removing the possibility of custodial sentences for such offences;
5.4while welcoming the recent decrease in its use, expresses its concern about the continued widespread use of pre-trial detention in Georgia. The Assembly emphasises that detention on remand should only be used as a measure of last resort, when there is a clear risk of absconding, interference with the course of justice, or a serious risk that the person will commit a serious offence or pose a threat to public order. It calls on the authorities to adopt clear guidelines for the prosecution and courts for the use of detention on remand, in order to ensure full adherence with the requirements of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) and Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2006)13 on the use of remand in custody, the conditions in which it takes place and the provision of safeguards against abuse;

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Ivan POPESCU, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Gvozden Srećko FLEGO, Ms Eka BESELIA

Votes: 18 in favor 117 against 4 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5.4, replace the first sentence with the following sentence: "while welcoming the recent decrease in its use, the Assembly encourages the authorities to take further measures to limit the use of pre-trial detention in Georgia."

Explanatory note

The use of pre-trial detention is no longer widespread in Georgia. The approval of pre-trial detention has dropped very significantly to 26.7% of cases in 2013, as compared to 42.4% in 2012. This reflects the new independence of the judiciary.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI, Ms Tinatin BOKUCHAVA, Mr Bernd FABRITIUS, Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Ms Chiora TAKTAKISHVILI

Votes: 86 in favor 54 against 2 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5.4, at the end of the second sentence, insert the following words: "and it should not be used for political purposes".

Explanatory note

The amendment stresses that pre-trial detention should not be used for political purposes. A clear example was the arrest of UNM election campaign manager and former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava five days before the crucial runoff and sentencing him to pre-trial detention.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 5.4, third sentence, replace the words "It calls" with the following words: "The Assembly recognises that the Georgian legal code reflects these conditions but calls".

Explanatory note

The legal requirements for the approval of pre-trial detention are clearly laid out in Georgian law (Criminal Procedure Code) and meet European standards.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 5.4, insert the following paragraph:

"expresses concern over the widespread application of asset freezing to family members of opposition figures and former government officials in criminal cases not involving allegations concerning ilicit assets;"

Explanatory note

The amendments refers to the abuse by the prosecution service of the asset freezing procedure against opposition leaders' family members for criminal cases not involving allegations concerning assets acquired before these former officials assumed office.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 5.4, insert the following paragraph:

"urges the Georgian authorities to implement fully the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure on witness testimonies and jury trials;"

Explanatory note

The amendment aims to stress the need for the full implementation of the new provisions on witness testimonies and criminal jury trials. These provisions are part of the new Code of Criminal Procedure, the adoption of which was strongly welcomed by the Assembly in its previous Resolution.

5.5welcomes the reforms of the law-enforcement sector initiated by the authorities.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI, Ms Tinatin BOKUCHAVA, Mr Bernd FABRITIUS, Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Ms Chiora TAKTAKISHVILI

Votes: 83 in favor 48 against 11 abstentions

In the draft resolution, delete paragraph 5.5.

Explanatory note

The main concern of the opposition and local NGOs is the lack of the reform of law enforcement and the politization of the law enforcement institutions. Thus commending the Georgian authorities for the reform of the law enforcement institutions for which it has only attracted criticism would be inadequate.

6The Assembly notes that the media reforms initiated by the authorities are considered by the Representative for the Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to be an improvement over previous legislation and in line with international standards. The Assembly welcomes the fact that these reforms address several of its previous recommendations. It regrets that these reforms were unnecessarily politicised in the tense pre-electoral political environment.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 6, delete the last sentence.

Explanatory note

In 2013, Freedom House noted improvements after the 2012 parliamentary election, notably the increased political diversity in the television media. Transparency International Georgia reported a decrease in partisan bias in the media.

7The Assembly expresses its concern about the apparent politicisation of the public broadcaster and the recent difficulties experienced by the parliament in appointing an independent and impartial board of trustees to oversee its work. It considers this to be a signal that both the majority and the minority in parliament are attempting to politicise the composition and work of the board of trustees and ultimately the public broadcaster itself. Further amendments to the Law on Broadcasting need to be adopted obliging the parliament to appoint a board of trustees on the basis of the candidates proposed by the independent and impartial public selection committee that is foreseen in the law. In this context, the Assembly urges the Georgian Parliament to adopt the transitional measures necessary to implement the Constitutional Court decision with regard to the dismissal of the previous board of trustees.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Gvozden Srećko FLEGO, Ms Nataša VUČKOVIĆ

Votes: 25 in favor 115 against 3 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 7, replace the first and second sentences with the following sentences: "The Assembly welcomes the government's efforts in 2013 to depoliticise the appointment process of the public broadcaster. The Assembly however expresses its concern over recent difficulties experienced by the parliament in appointing an independent and impartial board of trustees to oversee its work, and urges both the majority and the opposition in parliament to avoid any politicisation of the composition and work of the board of trustees and ultimately the public broadcaster itself."

Explanatory note

The government has introduced and implemented important reforms to depoliticise, provide pluralism and transparency in the appointment process of the public broadcaster. The OSCE has applauded amendments to the appointment process of the Georgian Public Broadcaster's Board of Trustees for providing pluralism and transparency. Reforms continue with input from civil society.

8With regard to the recently adopted organic law on local self-government, the Assembly:
8.1welcomes the fact that all gamgebeli and mayors of self-governing cities are now directly elected. In this respect, it suggests also considering the election of regional governors;
8.2expresses its concern about the provisions that allow for the impeachment by the local councils of mayors and gamgebeli on any grounds. The Assembly considers that the impeachment of directly elected local officials, as well as the grounds on which this can be initiated, should be clearly prescribed and circumscribed by law;

In the draft resolution, delete paragraph 8.2.

Explanatory note

Inaccurate. It is not a procedure of impeachment but a procedure of "vote of no-confidence" in the mayor/gamgebeli, and the provisions that allow for this vote of no-confidence are very strict and will therefore limit the use of this procedure.

8.3takes note that this law, which affects the election procedure in local elections, was adopted only a few months before local elections were due to take place.
9The Assembly takes note of the numerous changes in local governments in Georgia as a result of local councillors and city officials resigning or switching sides following the change of power at national level. While resignations and switching between parties is part of the democratic process, it is unacceptable if it is the result of duress. The Assembly is therefore seriously concerned by credible reports that a number of these changes were the result of undue pressure on local United National Movement (UNM) activists by supporters of the ruling coalition. The Assembly is also concerned by reports of violent disturbances of the campaign activities of the UNM, allegedly by Georgian Dream supporters, as well as reports that a considerable number of opposition candidates in the local elections, mainly from the UNM, withdrew their candidatures, allegedly under pressure from the authorities. There can be no place for such actions in a democratic society. The authorities should take prompt and effective measures to immediately halt such action and remedy the situation where necessary. The leaders of the ruling majority should give a clear and unambiguous signal to their supporters that any undue pressure on local officials, and disturbances of the political activities of the opposition, will not be tolerated.

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 9 with the following paragraph:

"The Assembly takes note of the numerous changes in local governments in Georgia as a result of local councilors and city officials resigning or switching sides following the change of power at the national level. While resignations and switching between parties is part of the democratic process, it is unacceptable if it is the result of duress. The Assembly welcomes the explicit commitment of the government to ensure continuity in the civil service and to discourage changes in party allegiance. The Assembly also takes note of the decline in changes of party membership. The Assembly takes into consideration the fact that a number of changes have taken place as a result of undue pressure on local United National Movement (UNM) activists by supporters of the ruling coalition. The Assembly is also concerned by reports of violent disruption of the campaign activities of the UNM, allegedly by Georgian Dream supporters, as well as reports that a considerable number of opposition candidates in the local elections, mainly from the UNM, withdrew their candidatures, allegedly under pressure from the authorities. There can be no place for such actions in a democratic society. The authorities should take prompt and effective measures to immediately halt such action and remedy the situation where necessary. The leaders of the ruling majority should give a clear and unambiguous signal to their supporters that any undue pressure on local officials and disturbances of the political activities of the opposition will not be tolerated. The Assembly welcomes the explicit condemnation of the Prime Minister and other members of the government of such actions as well as the investigations and legal proceedings against party members from the ruling and opposition parties who may have broken the law."

Explanatory note

Following the 2012 elections, the Prime Minister of Georgia issued a statement about the commitment of the government to continuity in the civil service and called not to change party allegiance. Investigations and legal action have been taken against activists - including from the Georgian Dream party - who have engaged in violence or have exerted undue pressure on members of other political parties.

10The Assembly takes note of the large number of allegations of possible criminal conduct by former government officials during their tenure. At the same time, it is seriously concerned about allegations that the arrests and prosecution of a number of former government officials are politically motivated and amount to selective and revanchist justice. The Assembly:

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 10 with the following paragraph:

"The Assembly takes note of a number of allegations of possible criminal conduct by former government officials during their tenure. At the same time, it notes allegations made by the opposition that the arrests and prosecution of a number of former government officials are politically motivated and amount to selective and revanchist justice. However, it also notes that investigations and trials are taking place with extensive international (including EU, OSCE, ODIHR), media and civil society oversight. The Assembly:"

Explanatory note

In fact, investigations and trials are taking place for the most serious crimes (violence, murder, torture or the large-scale theft of state assets by senior government officials). Given the sensitivity of the process the government has ensured full transparency, with extensive international (including EU, OSCE, ODIHR), and civil societly oversight.

10.1underscores that there can be no impunity for ordinary crimes, including – and especially – those committed by government officials and politicians, whether current or past;
10.2calls on the Georgian authorities to ensure that the investigation and prosecution of former government officials are conducted impartially, transparently and in full respect of the principles of a fair trial, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. It emphasises that not only should selective or politically motivated justice not take place, it should also be seen to be not taking place;

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Tadeusz IWIŃSKI, Ms Eka BESELIA

Votes: 19 in favor 112 against 7 abstentions

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 10.2 with the following paragraph:

"recognises the importance of ensuring that no-one is above the law, but urges Georgia to continue to pay careful attention to due process and to ensure that the investigation and prosecution of former government officials are conducted impartially, transparently and in full respect of the principles of a fair trial, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. It emphasises that not only should selective or politically motivated justice not take place, it should also be seen to be not taking place. The Assembly welcomes the commitment of the Prime Minister and members of the government to ensure that the trials are free and fair, including by ensuring transparency. The Assembly also recognises efforts by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia to follow and implement recommendations from the EU Special Advisor Hammerberg and the US Justice Department prosecutors stationed in the country, on how to best meet international standards throughout the investigations and the prosecutions;".

Explanatory note

The government of Georgia is committed to implementing its international commitments, including by ensuring the rule of law and accountability for past human rights abuses and by ensuring that this process meets the highest international standards. Judicial reforms and international/civil society oversight ensure that legal and judicial process is free and fair.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 10.2, insert the following paragraph:

"takes note of the charges filed against former President Saakashvili and, while emphasising that no one is above the law, urges the authorities to ensure that, given the charged political climate in the country, the legal proceedings, including requests for pre-trial detention, against him are not influenced by political motivations."

In amendment 4, replace the words "President Saakashvili" with the following words: "government officials"; delete the words "given the charged political climate in the country"; and at the end of the sentence, replace the word "him" with the following word: "them".

10.3urges the authorities to investigate fully and in a transparent manner any allegations of improper conduct by law-enforcement agencies or the prosecution in relation to these cases;
10.4considers that the introduction of jury trials for former government officials accused of having committed ordinary crimes is an important and positive step to help guarantee the impartiality of their trials;
10.5taking into account the considerable tensions in the political environment created by these prosecutions, welcomes the suggestion by the authorities of a possible amnesty for all but serious crimes committed by former government officials.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 10.5, insert the following paragraph:

"expresses its concern about the length of the pre-trial detention of former Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia and asks the authorities to use all legal means available to replace his detention on remand with some other non-custodial precautionary measure."

11The Assembly underscores the importance of an independent and impartial civil service. The alleged practice of hiring and dismissing civil servants on the basis of party affiliation by both previous and current governments runs counter to this principle and should be stopped.

In the draft resolution, before paragraph 11, insert the following paragraph:

"The Assembly welcomes the peaceful and calm conduct of the local elections on 15 June and 12 July 2014, which took place in an improved electoral environment. However, it expresses its concern about isolated violent incidents during the campaign period and about the persistent allegations of pressure on, and intimidation of, opposition candidates to withdraw their candidatures, which created a charged and contentious campaign environment. It calls upon the authorities to fully, and transparently, investigate the reports of pressure on, and intimidation of, candidates to resign and, if violations are found, to prosecute perpetrators in line with the Georgian legislation.”

In amendment 3, second sentence, delete the words "persistent" and "opposition".

12 The Assembly takes note of the large number of complaints filed by ordinary citizens with the prosecutor general for alleged miscarriages of justice and abuses of the justice system under the previous authorities, including forced plea bargaining, violations of property rights and ill-treatment while in prison. These allegations need to be properly investigated and, if need be, addressed. However, the Assembly wishes to underscore that any mechanism established to address these allegations should be a judicial procedure that fully respects the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and the obligations of Georgia under the European Convention on Human Rights.
13The Assembly welcomes the law on the elimination of all forms of discrimination that was adopted on 2 May 2014 and which significantly enhances the legal framework for the protection of persons from discrimination. It takes note of concerns by civil society that the draft law would lack effective mechanisms to implement its provisions. The Assembly therefore suggests that the authorities conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the results of this law one year after its adoption, with a view to improving the effectiveness of the implementation mechanisms contained in it, if need be.
14The increase of intolerant discourse and discriminatory acts against minorities, especially sexual and religious minorities, in Georgian society is of concern. The authorities need to make clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated and that any perpetrators of violent or discriminatory acts will be prosecuted. There can be no impunity for such acts, irrespective of who committed them. All stakeholders, and especially representatives of political parties and institutions that hold high moral credibility in Georgian society, should refrain from divisive language and acts that could incite intolerance or deteriorate the situation of minorities.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 14, first sentence, delete the words "The increase of".

30 September 2014

Tabled by Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI, Ms Tinatin BOKUCHAVA, Mr Bernd FABRITIUS, Ms Chiora TAKTAKISHVILI, Ms Ana GUŢU, Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Votes: 101 in favor 27 against 9 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 14, after the first sentence, insert the following sentence: "The Assembly is concerned by the lack of effective investigation and prosecution of hate crimes against minorities."

Explanatory note

The ineffective investigation and prosecution of hate crimes remain the major concern in Georgia and has to be noted by the Assembly. Over the past year and a half human rights watchdogs have raised concern over repeated violent attacks on various minorities, of a pogrom on a LGBT group on 17 May 2013, the cutting down of a minaret or the nailing of a pig's head on a madrassa. In none of the cases were any of the perpetrators effectively prosecuted.

29 September 2014

Tabled by Mr Şaban DİŞLİ, Mr Reha DENEMEÇ, Mr Ömer SELVİ, Mr Yıldırım Tuğrul TÜRKEŞ, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Mr Samad SEYIDOV

Votes: 21 in favor 107 against 9 abstentions

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 14, insert the following sentence: "In that regard, the demands of the Muslim community in the country for the construction of new mosques should be met."

Explanatory note

The government and different segments of Georgian society generally have a negative attitude towards the demands of the Muslim minority. The Georgian government is expected to be more receptive to the demands from the Muslim community for the construction of new mosques.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Tadeusz IWIŃSKI, Ms Eka BESELIA

Votes: 104 in favor 19 against 8 abstentions

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 14, add the following sentences: "The Assembly welcomes the strong stand of the Georgian government against discrimination and takes note that investigations are ongoing into several incidents of violence committed on the basis of ethnic, sexual or religious intolerance. The Assembly also welcomes the adoption by the Georgian Parliament in May of the new Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan."

Explanatory note

The National Human Rights Strategy 2014-2020 was adopted by Parliament (May 2014) and the strategy implementation document and human rights action plan 2014-2015 was approved by the govermenment of Georgia (July 2014).

In amendment 20, delete the first sentence and in the second sentence, delete the word "also".

15With regard to the repatriation of the deported Meskhetian population, the Assembly considers that the repatriation programme has mostly focused on providing a legal repatriate status to the eligible applicants and not on facilitating the actual repatriation itself. In addition, the Assembly takes note of the long delays in the granting of citizenship to those who have received repatriate status. The Assembly therefore reiterates the need for a comprehensive repatriation strategy and takes note of the recent initiatives taken by the Georgian authorities in this respect.

29 September 2014

Tabled by Mr Şaban DİŞLİ, Mr Reha DENEMEÇ, Mr Ömer SELVİ, Mr Yıldırım Tuğrul TÜRKEŞ, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Mr Samad SEYIDOV

Votes: 23 in favor 104 against 10 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 15, replace the words "Meskhetian population" with the following words: "Meskhetian Turks".

Explanatory note

This population has always been referred to as "Meshetian Turks" or "Ahiska Turks" in previous Assembly documents and other international organisations' texts. There is no reason for denying the identity of these people.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Tadeusz IWIŃSKI, Ms Gülsün BİLGEHAN

Votes: 20 in favor 112 against 6 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 15, second sentence, after the words "repatriate status", insert the following words: "due to the lack of applications for citizenship".

Explanatory note

The existing law requires persons with repatriate status to file applications for citizenship within 2 years. There has been an actual lack of applications from such persons. Latest data show that 104 applicants have been granted citizenship and 165 applicants are due to be granted citizenship in the near future.

30 September 2014

Tabled by Ms Guguli MAGRADZE, Mr Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA, Ms Gülsün BİLGEHAN, Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Mr Tadeusz IWIŃSKI

Votes: 124 in favor 8 against 1 abstention

In the draft resolution, paragraph 15, replace the last sentence with the following sentence: "The Assembly welcomes the adoption by the government of Georgia of the State Strategy on Repatriation."

Explanatory note

The State Strategy on Repatriation has recently been adopted by the government of Georgia (State Strategy on Repatriation N1671, 12/09/2014).

In amendment 22, replace the words "The Assembly welcomes the adoption by the government of Georgia of the State Strategy on Repatriation" with the following words: "The Assembly therefore reiterates the need for a comprehensive repatriation strategy and in that context welcomes the adoption by the Georgian Government of a "State Strategy on Repatriation"."

16The Assembly calls on the Georgian authorities to sign and ratify, without further delay, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ETS No. 148), which is an accession commitment of Georgia to the Council of Europe. Noting the misconceptions that exist in Georgian society regarding the Charter, the Assembly recommends that the Georgian authorities organise an awareness campaign, with the involvement of civil society and the media, targeted at the different stakeholders in this process, with a view to clarifying the provisions of the Charter and its requirements.
17The Assembly expresses its concern about the systemic illegal surveillance of citizens by the Georgian law-enforcement agencies, which violates the country’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. While welcoming recent measures to address this issue, the Assembly considers that comprehensive legislation is urgently needed to regulate data collection and surveillance by law-enforcement agencies.

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 17 with the following paragraph:

"The Assembly expresses its concern about cases of illegal surveillance of citizens by the Georgian law-enforcement agencies which violate the country's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and notes steps taken by the authorities such as destroying illegal surveillance videos acquired by domestic intelligence during the previous government. While welcoming these recent measures to address this issue, the Assembly considers that comprehensive legislation is urgently needed to regulate data collection and surveillance by law-enforcement agencies. The Assembly welcomes the adoption by parliament in late July of legislative amendments to the Criminal Law Proceedings Code which will introduce stricter regulation for the use of secret surveillance."

Explanatory note

In January 2014 the government destroyed a cache of thousands of "dirty tapes" recorded under the previous regime. In May 2013, a deputy minister was arrested on charges of breaching privacy laws. The government introduced new legislation to ban such recordings which was passed by the parliament in July.

18The Assembly takes note of the report “Georgia in transition” by the European Union’s Special Adviser for Legal and Constitutional Reform and Human Rights in Georgia, and former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, and supports its conclusions and recommendations.

At the end of paragraph 18, add the following words: "as well as those contained in his follow-up report."

19Georgia has made marked progress in its democratic development over recent years. It is now important for it to overcome the antagonism, polarisation and sense of revenge that are still present in the political environment and for political stakeholders to contribute constructively to the further democratic consolidation of the country. The Assembly stands ready to assist the Georgian authorities and Parliament in this work.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 19, at the end of the first sentence, insert the following words: ", although it has been overshadowed by the arrest and prosecution of almost the entire leadership of the former government party and former high officials, which raises questions about the eventual use of the justice system for political purposes".

Explanatory note

The marked progress of Georgia has been challenged by the arrest and prosecution of the opposition leaders and members, raising serious concerns about the readiness of Georgia to comply fully with commitments and obligations as a member of the Council of Europe.