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U.S. Statement on the UPR Working Group Intervention for Georgia
January 27, 2011

Remarks by the Delegation of the United States of America

UPR Working Group Intervention for Georgia, 10th Session

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Delivered by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor, Daniel Baer

The United States welcomes Deputy Minister Kaparadze and the Georgia delegation to the UPR Working Group and thanks Georgia for the completion of its national report and presentation today. We would like to offer the following comments.

While work remains to be done, the United States commends the measures Georgia has taken to improve its human rights situation in recent years. A reformed Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), Parliament’s strengthening of the Office of the Public Defender, and Georgia’s accession to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are welcome developments.

Mr. President:

We take due note of your ruling on the point of order, but we must state that with regard to human rights, due to the Russia’s occupation of Georgia’s regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Government of Georgia is unable to promote and protect human rights in these regions, which sit within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders. Moreover, the lack of transparency and absence of international monitors prevents Georgia and the international community from assessing the human rights situation there.

On the issue of electoral reform, we welcomed some positive steps in the May 2010 municipal elections. However, we hope that Georgia will fully address areas where the OSCE/ODIHR noted needed improvement including the flawed election code, appropriate use of administrative resources, equitable access to media coverage, and accountability for election-related misdeeds. We acknowledge the Government of Georgia’s ongoing efforts to work with opposition parties to reform the electoral code, and would like to know the envisioned timeline for enacting reforms. We also encourage Georgia to ensure that such reforms incorporate the views of opposition parties and civil society.

On the issue of, the Venice Commission made recommendations to buttress the independence of the judiciary, including that the probation period prior to the lifetime appointment of judges be eliminated, and that Supreme Court judges be afforded lifetime tenure and be nominated by the High Judicial Council rather than the President. We would appreciate hearing Georgia’s views on these recommendations.

Bearing in mind these concerns, the United States would like to make the

following three recommendations:

1. That Georgia fully implement the Venice Commission and ODIHR’s electoral reform recommendations, in consultation with opposition parties and civil society groups, well in advance of the 2012 and 2013 elections.

2. That Georgia complete and enact the draft media law, such that it includes measures to increase media ownership transparency and financial transparency.

3. That Georgia implement changes that improve the independence of the judiciary, giving full consideration to the Venice Commission’s concerns, particularly by establishing more objective and transparent processes for the appointment, discipline, and removal of judges, including during any applicable probation period.