TBILISI, DFWatch–EU’s Special Advisor Thomas Hammarberg asks the government of Georgia to not politicize investigation of former officials and says Georgian society must stop looking back into the past and instead think about the future.
Hammarberg, who is EU’s Special Advisor to Georgia on Legal and Constitutional Issues, on Sunday presented a more than 40 pages long report after eight months of observations.
Based on meetings with people in the government, legislatature, civil society and the media, he said he had found that there are problems in regards to lack of involvement of women in politics. There are violations of children’s rights as they should not have to live in poverty because of the mistakes of their parents and should have an opportunity to study. That’s why he thinks that this problem must become one of the major political priorities – child poverty and bad education system. This will require institutional reforms and increased budget.
Hammarberg recalled the passing og amendments to the Labor Code, and said that it was a step forward, and now it is time that new institutions use the law in order to establish a culture of solving labor disputes.
He thinks further development of democratic institutions is important, as well as strengthening the institute of the Public Defender, which Georgia has had for many years now. The office does an important job to popularize the protection of human rights, he said.
Hammarberg also underlines that it is important to have institutional and legal reform to protect the freedom of religion and avoid discussion of minority issues only in the context of security. He recalls the recent incidents involving Muslim communitites, and the events which followed a gay rights rally, saying that it raises concerns.
He was critical to the events on May 17, when an anti-homophobia rally was disrupted by followers and supporters of radical Orthodox clerics. Hammarberg thinks that the legal reaction to these events was insufficient. He thinks it is important to have a tough discussion about how to fight deep stereotypes in society.
Hammarberg’s report contains statements from members of the National Movement party about violations in the election campaign. Hammarberg writes that he is passively following the election campaign, but the UNM complains they do not have the opportunity to conduct an election campaign normally. They say a one hundred lari fine is not enough to prevent such incidents.
Hammarberg also writes about the necessity to strengthen justice reform and to take account of past experiences in this area.
Richard Norland, US Ambassador to Georgia, told journalists that the report is important and called on the government and the opposition to sit down and think of ways to implement the recommendations described in it.