Georgia

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Persistent violations
  • Trafficking of children[1]
  • Economic exploitation of children and child labour[2]
  • Children living and working on the streets[3]
  • Corporal punishment[4]
  • Discrimination against children from ethnic and religious minority backgrounds[5]
  • Barriers to access to education and discrimination in the education system[6]
  • Discrimination against and inadequate services for, children with disabilities[7]
  • Discrimination against, and barriers in access to services for, internally displaced children[8]
  • Inadequate birth registration[9]
  • Inadequate funding, regulation and monitoring of alternative care institutions[10]

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Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, International Labour Organisation, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, International Labour Organisation, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Representative of the Secretary-general on Internally Displaced Persons
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

Located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, Georgia borders Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. After a civil war and authoritarian period following the fall of the USSR, the popular Rose Revolution of 2003 led to reforms, though continued use of violent measures against peaceful protestors and accusations of election fraud remain. The most pressing human rights issues concern conflict over the two de facto independent regions, Abkhazia and North Ossetia, with displacement from the most recent round of fighting leaving tens of thousands homeless and without access to key government services.


Geography

Georgia is located in south-western Asia on the Black Sea, and shares borders with Russia, Turkey Armenia and Azerbaijan. The country has a varied landscape, from the mountain peaks of the Caucasus to the river valley flood plains of the west. The capital city is Tblisi.

Population and Language

Georgia is home to around 4.3 million people, a figure that has fallen sharply since 1990 and continues to fall at an annual rate of around 0.5 per cent.[1] Of this population, a large majority are of Georgian descent (71 per cent), though there are substantial communities of Armenian, Russian, Azeri, Ossete and Abkhaz peoples.

Georgian is the country's official language, though in Abkhazia, Abkhaz is also an official language.[2] Russian, Armenian and Azeri are also widely spoken among those of their corresponding ethnic backgrounds.

History and Politics

Georgia came under the control of the Russian Empire between 1801 and the Russian revolution of 1917, and briefly enjoyed independence before the Red Army invaded four years later. In 1936 the country became a Republic of the USSR and remained so until the break up of the Soviet Union in 1990. The period that followed independence was one of political instability in which internal territory disputes over the territories of Adjara, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were fought alongside political struggles in the capital.

Within a year of election, Georgia's first post-independence leader was deposed in a military coup, and later replaced by former Soviet Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze. Shevardnadze oversaw a turbulent period of Georgia's history, during which a new constitution was established, the Presidency was instituted and internal conflicts continued. In 2003, Shevardnadze was deposed in what became known as “the rose revolution” following large scale protests and allegations that he had rigged national elections. When Presidential elections were held two months later, Mikheil Saakashvili, who had led the protests, emerged as the new President. Saakashvili's Presidency has not been without controversy, however, and in 2007 he was widely criticised for the use of riot police to disperse protesters. The President was, nonetheless re-elected in a snap-election in 2008, though opposition supporters alleged vote rigging.[3]

Relations with Russia have been tense since Georgian independence, and reached crisis point in 2008 when Georgia sent troops into South Ossetia to bring the region under Georgian control. Russian peacekeeping forces resisted the assault and over the coming days were supported by the Russian army which entered undisputed Georgia. The conflict resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people on both sides, and the displacement of an estimated 150,000 people.[4]

Economy

Georgia has experience rapid growth in its economy over the last decade, averaging 9 per cent between 2005 and mid-2008, but the combined impact of the 2008 armed conflict and the global economic crisis that followed caused a dramatic fall in GDP. The country emerged from the economic crisis in 2011, however, returning to growth in excess of 7 per cent. Agriculture has historically been a key component of the Georgian economy, and still accounts for 50 per cent of employment, but now provides a little over 8 per cent of GDP compared to a quarter in 1999. The country's main exports are now metal or metal produces, repaired and manufactured vehicles, fertilisers, fruit, nuts, wines and other beverages.[5]

Media and Civil Society

Georgia has Constitutional protections of media freedom as well as some of the most progressive press freedom legislation in the region, media operating in the country nonetheless experience a plethora of limitations on their freedom. Freedom House has reported that physical harassment and intimidation of journalists is relatively rare in the country, though the organisation has received complaints of several incidents from opposition broadcasters such as Trialeti TV. The Georgian National Communications Commission has been accused of partisanship in its role of regulating and licensing telecommunications and broadcast media, particularly for lack of independence and favouring pro-government outlets. Financial pressures are also reported to feed into pro-government pressure, as most private media outlets are reliant on big business for funding, and these businesses often have close ties to the government.[6] Reporters Without Borders rated Georgia 104 out of 179 in its Press Freedom Index of 2011/12, a relatively high rating for the region, but one that recognises the notable problems that the press face in operating in the country.[7]

Human Rights and Children's Rights

The persistent conflict in Georgia has given rise to a number of serious human rights issues, those affecting internally displaced persons affecting perhaps the largest number of people. The Representative to the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons estimated that as a result of 2008 conflict, around 133,000 people became displaced within Georgia, an estimated 37,605 of which would be unable to return home in the foreseeable future. IDP children particularly face problems such as accessing housing, education and health care.[8] Amnesty International has also reported that in attempting to address the housing problems of displaced families, the government has carried out forced evictions of hundreds of families. Police and security services have also reportedly responded violently to peaceful protests.[9]



Footnotes:

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2012"
  2. Constitution of Georgia, Article 8
  3. The Guardian, "Opposition claims Georgia President rigged election victory" 7 January 2008
  4. AlertNet, [http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/georgias-displaced-top-150000-un-says "Georgia's displaced top 150,000, UN says" 18 August 2008
  5. The World Bank "Georgia Country Brief"
  6. Freedom House, "Freedom of the Press 2011"
  7. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011/12"
  8. Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, 13 February 2009 (A/HRC/10/13/Add.2)
  9. Amnesty International, "World Report 2012: The state of the world's human rights"

Sources:

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