TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia will change the way refugee status is regulated, after a bill was introduced in parliament.

The new bill on Refugee and Humanitarian Status is quite lengthy in comparison with the 1998 Law about Refugee Status, which it replaces.

The government explains the changes with a need for legal refinement on a number of issues: to have a definition of the legal standing of people with refugee and humanitarian status and a need to fall in line with international standards.

The background to the new bill reflects widely accepted international legislative principles, enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugee Status and the 1967 Protocol on Refugee Status, according to a note explaining the bill.

According to the law, something called ‘humanitarian status’ will be written into Georgian legislation. This status will be given on humanitarian grounds to a person who cannot fulfill the necessary requirements to receive refugee status, whilst it’s impossible to return the person to his or her place of permanent residence.

After illegally crossing the border, a person seeking for shelter in Georgia will be obliged to apply to a state body within 24 hours.

The current law defines that a person looking for a shelter should only apply to the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia.

The 24-hour term may be prolonged in case external circumstances prevents the person from delivering the application in time. A person will be obliged to personally apply to the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia, if he or she is legally on the territory of Georgia; but wants to receive refugee status.

The bill also states that a person won’t be granted refugee status in Georgia if he or she is found to be supporting an action against the country’s interests or to have committed a crime while being in Georgia before.

Refugee status won’t be granted to a person who have committed a crime against peace, military crime or crime against humanity, and also a serious non-political crime outside of Georgia. Moreover, a person accused of actions against the aims and principles of the UN will also be barred from refugee status.

Status will not be granted to someone who doesn’t need legal protection under the Geneva Convention on Refugee Status, or if he is guilty of a crime, after having been found guilty by a court, or have left his or her country of origin due to economic circumstances, because of an epidemic or in case of a natural or technical emergency situation.

Parliament will later review the proposed changes.