Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli
On July 17, on the International Day of Justice, the five member organizations of the Georgian Coalition for the ICC (GCICC) presented the special report “Ten Years after the August War: Victims of the Situation in Georgia.” The following members of the GCICC worked on the report: Article 42 of the Constitution, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Human Rights Center, Justice International and the Georgian Center for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT).
The Report aims to provide the society with the information about ongoing investigation of the ICC in Georgia and present challenges and problems.
During the presentation, the authors mentioned that part of the victims do not have information about the ICC and the investigation commenced by the ICC; while the part of the victims have wrong perception about the Court, including the expectation to receive compensation from the Court or/and return to South Ossetia.
“Over three years have passed since the opening of the investigation. During this time, the ICC has not commented much about the investigation’s progress. There is a considerable delay in the investigation compared to almost all of the previous situations that the Court has dealt with. Another significant obstacle for the investigation is the fact that more than ten years has passed since the 2008 August War and many victims have passed away and evidence were destroyed. One of the key obstacles for the investigation is the Russia’s refusal to cooperate with the OTP. In similar situation, there is high risk that the OTP will not be able to conduct comprehensive investigation,” the Report
The report also reviews the miscarriages in the national investigation, namely, it reads that since the August War, the national investigative bodies of Georgia have contacted only few number of victims. Consequently, majority of them do not have information about the investigation conducted on the domestic level and about their rights in this process.
One of the key recommendations to the Government of Georgia is to select and nominate a judge in the International Criminal Court of The Hague.
“With regard to the selection of the judge, special criteria shall be elaborated on the national level and the process shall be conducted transparently and publicly. Independent and highly qualified candidate shall be selected, who will be nominated in The Hague Court. It is also important that the Government of Georgia was more engaged in the process. We appreciate that we already have a representative in The Hague but we should have one in New-York too because the Court has two working groups – one in The Hague and second in New-York,” Nika Jeiranashvili, representative of the Justice International.
The Report also reviews the social-economic state of the victims ten years after the 2008 August War. The IDPs still cope with grave social-economic problems. IDPs’ problems are identical irrespective of where they are settled. The most hardship is caused by absence of jobs and the impossibility of engaging in agricultural activities. Daily living conditions in IDP settlements are hard in terms of problems related to transportation, road and irrigation infrastructure, physical accessibility of medical services, preschool and secondary education. Only 0.02% of the interviewed IDPs noted that their families do not have any problems.
Representative of Human Rights Center talks about the grave socio-economic problems of IDPs.
“The IDPs live in grave socio-economic conditions. Their housing conditions are grave. They have problems in terms of access to medical services. Lack of employment is serious problem for them. IDPs have limited access to education too,” HRC representative Nino Tsagareishvili said.
The Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria said that considering the current problems, the State of Georgia shall intensify its work on the international level.
“Every year, the state of human rights of the people living in the occupied territories and IDPs is worsening. In this light, the only effective way for Georgia to defend the rights of the Georgian citizens are international courts and raising this issue to international level,” Nino Lomjaria said.
In the end, the Report delivers special recommendations to state institutions and the respective bodies of the ICC.
The five nongovernmental organizations call on the government, to develop a national procedure for the selection of a candidate for nomination of a judge of the ICC, and ensure a merit-based approach is applied bearing in mind the provisions of the Rome Statute; to ensure effective participation in the committees and working groups of the Bureau of the Assembly in The Hague and New York; to cooperate with international partners to raise awareness about the ICC investigation into the situation in Georgia and to deal with challenges related to the non-cooperation of Russia, inter alia, in case of issuing warrants of arrest by the Court, on the matters related to their enforcement. NGOs are also calling on the state institutions and local municipalities to take relevant measures in order to improve the socio-economic conditions of IDPs in the IDP settlements. The report also presents recommendations to the relevant organs of ICC, as well as Trust Fund for Victims. Organizations are calling on the Trust Fund to ensure timely assessment of the needs and initiate implementation of the assistance mandate for the affected communities.