The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) published a new report on asylum seekers in Georgia. The procedures on asylum denial are not transparent and there are several errors in Georgian law regarding the procedures, IDFI says.
IDFI explains that according to legislative and judicial practice, the state can deny giving an asylum seeker the status of refugee or humanitarian status if the individual is a threat to the country’s security, territorial integrity, and public health. The asylum seeker receives no information about the reason why the decision was taken.
Using statistical data from Georgia’s Ministry of Refugees, IDFI says that “the data raises a suspicion that the State Security Service and the Ministry may be using existing legislative shortcomings to refuse shelter to asylum seekers.”
IDFI notes that “in the period from January 1, 2017 to October 9, 2017, 95 asylum seekers were refused refugee or humanitarian status on the basis of state security, which is a large number. Moreover, statistics posted on the website of the Ministry show that only a small number of asylum seekers registered by the Ministry receive refugee or humanitarian status.”
IDFI emphasizes two major problems about the procedure:
“Due to the fact that the asylum seekers, as well as their advocates, do not have access to the above information, they are unable to exercise the right to defense and right to a fair trial. This fact itself is contrary to the requirements of the Constitution of Georgia.
Due to the fact that the above information is not contained in the judicial decisions and judgments, the society does not have access to the latter, despite the fact that they constitute public information. This fact itself contradicts the principle of publicity of information enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia.”
IDFI utilized statistical data for the report as well as copies of the decisions and judgments of Tbilisi Court of Appeals:
“According to the Law of Georgia on International Protection, the refusal to grant refugee or humanitarian status can be appealed to the court. The final decision on such cases is made by the Court of Appeals. Due to this, IDFI requested the copies of the decisions and judgments of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals, where the respondent was the Ministry of Refugees and the dispute was about the refusal to grant refugee or humanitarian status on the basis of state security.
The Tbilisi Court of Appeals provided IDFI the copies of all decisions and judgments issued towards above mentioned matters in the period from January 1, 2017 to September 1, 2017.”
The full version of the report can be found here