ADC Memorial welcomes recommendations by the EU delegation to the Georgian government, following the 11th EU and Georgia annual Human Rights Dialogue

In line with EU policy of consulting civil society ahead of the event, ADC “Memorial” contributed to the 11th EU and Georgia annual Human Rights Dialogue that took place in Brussels on 25 April 2018 in presence of the EU and Georgian delegations.

ADC “Memorial” welcomes that the EU delegation encouraged Georgia to continue ensuring the effective implementation of its anti-discrimination law. The participants stressed their commitment to the universality of human rights for all, regardless of religion or belief, race, sex, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or other. ADC Memorial had pushed forward that paragraph 2 of article 5 of the “Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination” (2391-II) on “Interpretation and scope of the Law” which states that “No provision of this Law may be interpreted as contradicting the Constitution of Georgia and the Constitutional Agreement between the State and the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia”. This paragraph clearly gives a special status to the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church and discriminates other religions existing in Georgia. Moreover, this article is contradictory to anti-discriminative standards so far as the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox is inclined to convey strong patriarchal values that represent a risk for many people in Georgian society.

Although the EU underlined the progress made by Georgia with regard to the protection of ethnic minorities and their civic integration, ADC Memorial reminds that ethnic minorities and more particularly Roma people still suffer from discrimination and are not fully integrated in society. There is no special plan to guarantee that children can have access to education in their own language, or have support in learning the state language. Moreover, the state has not created sufficient means to control that the children attend school. As a result, a lot of Roma children drop out of school early and don’t fully enjoy their right to education.

Both delegations agreed that further steps need to be taken in support of gender equality. ADC Memorial reminds that although Georgia recently revoked the list of professions forbidden for women, this reform remains incomplete. Profession-specific bans continue to exist for nursing or pregnant mothers. Georgia’s current Labor Law bans “the entry into labor contracts with minors, pregnant women, and nursing mothers to perform arduous, harmful, or dangerous work” (Clause 5 of Article 4). Clause 8 of Article 35 reads “The list of arduous, harmful, and dangerous jobs, rules for occupational safety, including cases and rules for the periodic medical examination of workers at the expense of their employers, shall be determined by the laws of Georgia.” Article 54 of the Labor Code orders the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Protection of Georgia to develop and approve “a list of arduous, harmful, and dangerous jobs, as well as a list of cases and rules for a periodic mandatory medical examination of workers at the expense of employers until July 1, 2017”. Resolution No. 147/n of the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Protection “On the Approval of a List of Arduous, Harmful, and Dangerous Jobs” was adopted (May 3, 2007) to implement the Article 54.1.b of the Labor Code. The bans on the labor of pregnant women and (nursing) mothers of young children that have been left in effect leave both potential workers, whose access to labor is being restricted, and employers, whom women can choose not to inform that they are pregnant or nursing, in a tricky situation. The results of these bans are predictable: an employer may refuse to hire women because of costly socioeconomic obligations (payment of possible maternity leave, sick leave, etc.) and because they fear penalties for hiring people from the “banned” category. The Georgian government should abolish completely professional bans for all women (including pregnant and nursing).

ADC Memorial regrets that violence on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity have not been mentioned during the dialogue, while over the last few years, civil society organizations noted a number of attacks on people in relation to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Picture by Vladimir Varfolomeev