Our litigation in Georgia began in 2006. Since then we have brought cases challenging restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly, right to life, failure to compensate victims of Soviet-era repression, and cases concerning the 2008 Russia-Georgia armed conflict. Following the August 2008 conflict, we lodged 32 cases against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights concerning indiscriminate shelling, destruction and looting of property, and fatalities in South Ossetia and near the South Ossetian border. More recently, our litigation has expanded to include cases concerning gender-based violence and discrimination against the LGBTI community.
Examples of cases against Georgia
Combatting violence against women
Violence against women remains a severe problem in Georgia, exacerbated by the ineffective and inadequate response of the authorities, despite the 2006 Law on Domestic Violence. In addition to implementing the CEDAW Committee’s decision in X and Y v Georgia we are working together with partners on developing and pursuing cases on violence against women before the European Court and the CEDAW Committee. Litigating gender-based violence before the European Court is a relatively new area for Georgian NGOs and an underdeveloped area of the Court’s case law. We will be working closely with our Georgian partners to take strategic cases to the European Court and use the CEDAW mechanisms to seek better protection for women victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Tackling discrimination against LGBT activists
Together with GYLA, we are litigating a case brought by the Women’s Initiative Support Group (WISG), an organisation promoting LGBT rights in Georgia. The case was communicated to the Georgian Government in August 2015. In 2013, WISG organised a peaceful rally to mark the International Day against Homophobia. Counter-demonstrators attended the event, shouted homophobic insults and violent threats, and broke the windows of WISG’s minibus with batons as they attempted to drive away. The applicants complain that the authorities failed to protect them from the counter-demonstrators’ violent attack and effectively investigate the incident.
With Article 42, we also act in the case of the Inclusive Foundation, an NGO focusing on LGBT rights, whose offices were raided by the police in December 2009. Officers strip-searched staff and referred to them in denigrating terms. Given the very limited litigation to date on LGBT rights in the region, both these cases have the potential for major impact for those defending the rights of LGBT and other marginalised communities in Georgia and beyond.
Georgian Government admits human rights violations
In 2015, the Georgian Government settled six of our cases by partially admitting, through unilateral declarations and friendly settlements, that violations of the ECHR occurred at the hands of law enforcement and prison personnel. Significantly, in all six cases, the Government undertook to conduct a prompt and effective investigation into the applicants’ claims of torture, ill-treatment, unlawful detention and, in two cases, violations of the right to life. Together with our partner GYLA, we will be closely monitoring the Government’s implementation of these decisions, including the investigations it pursues, and the concrete steps it takes to prevent similar future violations.
EHRAC has been litigating cases with the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, our main partner, since 2006. We are also conducting joint litigation with the following organisations:
Georgia at the European Court
- Georgia ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1999.
- As of 1 July 2016, there are 2125 cases pending against Georgia at the European Court.
- Of the four judgments handed down against Georgia in 2015, the most commonly found violations were: prohibition of discrimination, and the right to respect for private and family life.