Ethnic Minorities in Georgia

02/06/2005
Report
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) publishes a report entitled “Ethnic Minorities in Georgia” following an international fact-finding mission into the rights and freedoms of the ethnic minorities.

This mission was set up in the context of a huge influx into Western Europe of asylum seekers from Georgia who complained of discrimination. The mission took place in Tbilisi and in the provinces (Tsalka, Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe). The mission mainly focused on cases relating to the Yezidi Kurds, and the minorities in the regions of Tsalka and Samtskhe-Javakhetia.
The publication comes just when Georgia has committed itself, at the beginning of the year, to ratifying the European Framework Convention on National Minorities by September 2005.

The problem of minorities in Georgia is historical, ideological, political, legal and economic. It is made all the more complex as it involves an attempt to reconcile protecting the identity of minorities with ensuring their social integration. If the system for protecting minorities fails, minority groups will become isolated and, as a result, socially excluded, or else, they are assimilated and disappear.

Decisions and policies regarding the question of minorities is also either the cause or the effect of the State’s nationalism which is reflected in minority groups. Bilateral relations between Georgia and the countries of origin of these groups, or between Russia, the minority groups and their country of origin often determine the policies relating to minorities.
Inequalities are heightened by the economic and social situation in the country, the effect of which is all the more evident amongst minority groups. In addition, all the spheres where human rights apply are affected by corruption, as are the minorities, and especially, the most vulnerable members of society, who often belong to the minority groups.

The FIDH asks the Georgian government to conform in all respects to the international treaties and conventions to which the State of Georgia is party in order to ensure the rule of law; to make sure that the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and any form of discrimination inflicted by the law enforcement agencies on Georgian citizens, particularly those from minority groups, because of their ethnic, religious and/or national origins (Yezidi Kurds, Azeris, Armenians etc) is ended; investigate these violations, identify their perpetrators and punish them in accordance with the relevant regional and international laws so as to put an end to their impunity; combat corruption which is ruining at the country and hindering observance of the economic, social and political rights of all citizens and especially of those belonging to minority groups.

The FIDH asks the Georgian government to ratify the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as soon as possible.

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