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Coronavirus pandemic and human rights

September 24, 2020
Manana Vardiashvili

From July 1 to September 20, the Human Rights Center provided legal advice to 213 persons on the cases of human rights violations during the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic; HRC applied to administrative authorities on behalf of 18 allegedly abused persons and filed legal suits with courts on behalf of three individuals.  

Following the announcement of a new coronavirus (COVID - 19) by the World Health Organization (WHO), a state of emergency has been declared in Georgia.

The state of emergency was in force in Georgia from March 21 till May 23. During this period many regulations and restrictions were enacted to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic: Public transport seized operations, movement of vehicles was banned, no more than three people were allowed to gather, a curfew was in force from March 31, and traffic was banned from 21:00 till 06:00.    

Many businesses have been shut down in Georgia due to regulations and restrictions, and many were closed completely - hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and their only source of income. Thousands of people were left without assistance and the rights of many citizens were violated during and after the state of emergency. 

Within the framework of the project Free Legal Advocacy and Human Rights Monitoring After the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Human Rights Center was active in Tbilisi and 5 regions of Georgia: Shida and Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti, Imereti and Samegrelo having studied the facts of violations of human rights during and after the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and having identified the main discernible trends in violations of human rights and provided legal assistance to the allegedly abused individuals through qualified lawyers.  


According to official data, 7, 974 people were fined during the state of emergency from March 31 to May 23. The total amount of fines issued to persons amounted to GEL 23 922 000. 

All those who did not obey the rules introduced under the state of emergency and did not follow the 2-meter social distancing in the store or pharmacy, were in an open space or in a car with more than 3 people or violated the rules of curfew were fined.  

Among them was  L. A. who  was fined with GEL 3,000  by the patrol police on the morning of April 18, 2020, when she was driving to the pharmacy to buy some drugs. 

L.A. applied to the Human Rights Center for legal assistance. 

"She did not know that it was forbidden to drive from 00:00 of April 17, 2020, because she was sick the previous day and did not turn on the TV. Therefore, she could not listen to any news program, "says Eka Lomidze, HRC lawyer. "L.A. has  high pressure as usual. This is a chronic disease and it is possible to control the pressure only with continuous taking of drugs. The previous day she ran out of the drugs and as soon as she felt better, she went to buy the medicine. The patrol officer did not take into account her condition and issued her a fine. We requested the document of the fine to be declared void and we also filled in an administrative complaint. We have submitted a medical certificate - Form NIV-100 / a, and a certificate of health status of L.A. stating that she has a chronic disease and needs medication." 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs rejected the complaint. The Human Rights Center filed a lawsuit regarding the above case with the Panel of Administrative Matters of Tbilisi City Court. 

Deferred and costly loans

Postponing the loans and imposing a grace period on them is part of a plan of economic incentives offered to citizens by banks following the recommendation of the government to assist the citizens effected by the spread of the coronavirus.

By the decision of the commercial banks, three installment payments of loans were postponed. However, at the same time, the loan term was increased by three months and the monthly payment amount was increased, because the interest accrued during the grace period was redistributed to the remaining term of the loan. 
Most importantly, other persons who did not want to take advantage of the grace period were nevertheless included in this program, and many other people found the monthly payment unreasonably expensive. 

"The loan term for one of the beneficiaries of the project   was extended for three years due to the use of the grace period, further the loan interest and the principal amount of the loan were increased. “We have already filed a complaint with the commercial bank and the National Bank of Georgia and we are waiting for their decisions,” says Eka Lomidze.  

Citizens left without due assistance

According to the anti-crisis plan of the Government, all the employed individuals having lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic should receive GEL 200 monthly allowance for 6 months. However, many people were left without compensation. 

Among them is J. R. from Gori. He started a job at store Daily Ltd in Gori in February 2020. 

In the beginning of April 2020, he became sick. "He had a fever and asked the store manager for a permission to go to the doctor and to be replaced by another employee, which the manager refused. The manager never entered to the logbook that the employee of the store  had a fever. The situation continued  for almost 12 days. On April 16, the employee was fired. As they explained to him, the  employment contract was concluded with him for a probationary period and the employer could terminate the contract at any time and without bringing any reasons. J. R. believes that the actual reason for the dismissal was actually the state of his health. Although J.R. was fired during the state of emergency, he never benefited from the GEL 200 allowance  provided by the State. J.R. repeatedly appealed to the management of Daily Ltd to send the data to the Ministry of Finance, but in vain," says Alex Merebashvili, a lawyer within the Human Rights Center. 

At the time being HRC  is involved in the case.  HRC  already applied to Daily Ltd and requested to send Jaba Romelashvili's data to the Ministry of Finance to receive the due compensation.  

Within the framework of the project Free Legal Advocacy and Human Rights Monitoring After the COVID-19 Pandemic, the lawyers of the Human Rights Center have already provided free legal advice to 213 persons.   The project is supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands. 

"Apart from providing an expert legal assistance through this project to those citizens whose rights were violated during the state of emergency, we will also share monitoring results and key findings with the legislature and the executive authorities.  This will allow them to deal with a similar crisis in the future with less human rights violations, ”says project director Nino Tlashadze.