Human Rights Watch published its annual report on Georgia reviewing human rights in the country in 2017. The report is critical towards the Government of Georgia, particularly for rushing changes in the country’s parliamentary system. The first line of the report emphasizes that: “The ruling Georgian Dream party rushed in 2017 to approve constitutional reforms to complete Georgia’s evolution to a parliamentary system of governance, without securing broader political consensus.”
Regarding the electoral system, Human Rights Watch comments that postponing the move to a fully proportional electoral system as “highly regrettable” and “a major obstacle to reaching consensus.” The Venice Commission gave a similar assessment.
Human Rights Watch also touched on issues of lack of accountability for police, Georgia’s drug policy, right to privacy, LGBT rights, labour rights, and media freedoms.
Human Rights Watch emphasized that “Georgia does not have an effective independent mechanism for investigating abuse by law enforcement officials. Investigations, if launched, often lead to charges that carry lesser, inappropriate sanctions, like abuse of office, and rarely result in convictions.”
Regarding drug policies, Human Rights Watch describes the Georgian Government’s attitude as ‘harsh.’ The report says that the authorities continued to use drug laws “to criminally prosecute people who use drugs, while treatment options remain limited.”
On LGBT Rights, HRW notes the new constitutional-definition of marriage “as a union of a woman and a man,” saying that it creates the risk that “using the constitution to reinforce a barrier to same-sex marriage could feed widespread homophobia.”
Human Rights Watch also calls upon Georgia to improve the situation in regards to safe working conditions.
“Every year dozens of workers die and hundreds suffer injuries as a result of occupational accidents,” they note. Moreover, “investigations into workplace incidents rarely lead to accountability.”
A new surveillance bill that was adopted by Parliament of Georgia in March 2017 is also disscused. HRW emphasizes that “several nongovernmental organizations, supported by the president and the ombudsman, filed a lawsuit against the new law, claiming that it does not guarantee the right to privacy, as the new agency [doing the monitoring] is not sufficiently independent.”