Press release - 482(2010)

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Georgia

Strasbourg, 15.06.2010 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its third report on Georgia. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, pointed out positive initiatives in fighting discrimination on the grounds of “race”, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin, but also expressed concern that members of ethnic minorities still face exclusion due to their lack of command of Georgian and that Roma remain in a vulnerable position.

As regards positive developments, the Georgian Ombudsman continues to play a fundamental role in fighting discrimination, and setting up regional branches. The general lines of a National Strategy for Tolerance and Civil Integration were adopted in 2009.

Important measures have been taken in favour of internally displaced persons. The August 2008 armed conflict could have resulted in significant ethnic tension, however the public in general still seems to be able to distinguish between the political leadership and individual persons living in Georgia.

At the same time, contacts between the majority population and ethnic minorities are limited. Language is certainly one of the main obstacles and more needs to be done to ensure that ethnic-minority members speak Georgian. However, the isolation of Armenians, Azerbaijanis and others in the south and south-east is also due to infrastructural problems, in particular, transport and communication. Moreover, the majority population remains to a large extent unaware of the situation of ethnic-minority groups and their culture.

Harassment and violence targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims continue to be a problem and the police do not always take appropriate action. As a result, victims are reluctant to report racist offences and attacks on religious property.

Roma face widespread prejudice and marginalisation due to the extreme poverty in which some of them live. School attendance by Roma children is low.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations, among which the following three will be revisited in two years time:

    - Reform the teaching of Georgian to ethnic minority pupils;
    - Devise an integration strategy for Meskhetian Turks explaining the historical reasons for their return;
    - Improve the teaching of Georgian to ethnic-minority students of the Zurab Zhvania Public Administration School and assist, among others, ethnic-minority graduates to find appropriate jobs.

Link to the report

ECRI is an independent human rights body of the Council of Europe, which monitors problems of racism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member states.

Contacts:

Stephanie Schmölzer, ECRI Secretariat, tel. +33 388 41 3240; Stephanie.schmoelzer@coe.int
Estelle Steiner, Council of Europe Press Officer, tel. +33 388 41 33 35; Estelle.steiner@coe.int

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11

pressunit@coe.int

www.coe.int



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