On 7 October 2021, in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council held debates over the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on progress in the implementation of Resolution entitled “Cooperation with Georgia” relating to the difficult human rights situation in the Russian-occupied territories.
During the session, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Alexander Khvtisiashvili briefed the representatives of the UN member states on the difficult humanitarian situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia. He emphasized that despite the pandemic, human rights violations continue to be reported from the occupied regions, including violations of the right to life, the right to health, torture and ill-treatment, kidnappings and arbitrary arrests. In the same context, it was stressed that IDPs and refugees from the occupied territories are still denied the right to return their places of origin safely and with dignity. Moreover, Russia's constant destructive actions create a threat of new displacements.
The Deputy Minister noted that the illegal installation of barbed wire fences by the occupation regimes, the closure of the occupation line and the rejection of medical evacuation has caused fatalities and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
The Deputy Minister paid special attention to the intensified process of annexation of the occupied Georgian territories, including by signing the so-called dual citizenship agreement with the Russian occupation regime in the Tskhinvali region, as well as by opening polling stations for the Russian Duma elections in the occupied regions. In this context, Khvtisiashvili highlighted the violation of the right to native language education in the occupied regions.
The Deputy Minister noted that despite the Russian Federation's attempt to evade responsibility, the European Court of Human Rights established on 21 January 2021 that the Russian Federation illegally occupies Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and exercises illegal control over these territories. The European Court of Human Rights also holds the Russian Federation accountable for the violation of fundamental human rights.
It was highlighted that the Russian Federation undermines the peaceful conflict settlement process and hinders both the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms. The Deputy Minister stressed the need for the international community’s involvement in the implementation of the 12 August ceasefire agreement and the importance of granting the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights an access to the occupied territories.
Delegations of the European Union, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, Finland and Sweden made statements in support of Georgia.
The delegations welcom the progress made in terms of human rights protection, in particular, the adoption of the Law of Georgia on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the same time, the delegations express their strong support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. They also express concern about the grave human rights situation in the Russian-occupied territories of Georgia, including restrictions on freedom of movement, education and property rights, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, discrimination on ethnic grounds. The delegations underline the decision of the European Court of Human Rights establishing the responsibility of the Russian Federation for the violations of fundamental human rights. They also stress the need for international human rights mechanisms to enter the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia.