Anti-discrimination legislation as part of Visa Liberalization Action Plan

thank you very much i would like to give the floor to Georgie and then we discuss further hello my name is gurgi go to razor I come from Georgia working for Georgian young glorious association since 2009 I’m a lawyer for constitutional litigation but since 2014 I’ve I’ve taken position of coordinator for the litigation on anti discrimination issues so let’s get started with the adoption of anti-discrimination law in Georgia as well said this was the effect of visa liberalisation process with the EU and this dialogue started on for Juve june two thousand 2022 south and the european commission produced its first to report on implementation of visible ization plan on 11 november two thousand thirty and and according to this recommendation according to the this progress report you said that georgia should adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination law this was clearly mentioned in this report so and the inspiration was the EU UN human rights committee recommendation this was the inspiration that Georgia is in need of adopting such a law and it was one of the precondition of this visually burrell ization plan and how this the work of adoption of anti-discrimination law is going what was going on in Georgia so Ministry of Justice was entitled to draft anti-discrimination law and according to the first version of this bill it was envisage that special equality protection inspector should be established and this inspector should have the power to punish to use this punitive measures against the alleged discriminator so it must be a repressive body who-who should effectively implement the anti-discrimination law it was the first draft that was elaborated by the Ministry of Justice the process of drafting was very transparent and enclosed this process was inclusive and representatives of religious and ethnic minorities we’re involved in this process so Minister justice minister took meeting with them discusses the draft and minister of the minister gets remarks and no teased and criticized around this law and it was very transparent process and the representatives of religious and ethnic minorities as well as a representative of other groups for example person with disabilities LGBT rights activists we’re very happy with this draft law as this new effective a new effective mechanism was about to create it but this long process were did not bring happy end as the Minister of Justice sends this Lord to the same census drafter the government of Georgia according to the Georgian legislation it is the government who should initiate the bill before the Parliament Ministry of Justice is not entitled to do so and this law into sour at the end of 2030 was sent to the government and this transparent process was indeed so during 6 months is the preparation and government rewrote this anti-discrimination law none of the members of NGOs or representatives of religious or ethnic minority we’re involved in this process so drafting was going on into behind the closed door without any public involvement and in 2004 on the april 2014 this bill was

initiated before the parliament and in this case we get to know what this bill was about and this was totally rewritten hbu and according to the new bill that was initiated by the government it is a existing public defender or ombudsman responsible for implementing this anti-discrimination law so the institution of equality protection and spur inspector was erased out of the law and public defender if he finds the act of discrimination is entitled to issue non-binding recommendations rather than to resort to native fines or financial rep recursion upon the upon the discriminator so if someone commits the act of discrimination he would go unpunished according to this new law as a public defender or the ombudsman do not have any punitive a mechanism to respond on the act of discrimination the only mechanism is the recommendations that isn’t it binding and the discriminator is not obliged to follow with with this recommendation issued by the ombudsman this was a result of this bill and this was sent to the Parliament Lowe has already mentioned the drafting process in Moldova and the scenario was the same in Georgia as the Orthodox priest the priest and here’s the picture of them sitting in the parliament it’s a human rights committee hearing reading of this bill and they they were protesting this laws they do not want to see two words into this law and this magic words are sexual orientation and gender identities they strongly requested to erases two words out of the deal and they said that Parliament intend intends to legalize the sexual deviation and this is not this is not in comfort with the Christian values EU intends to substitute Georgian values with the foreign values and stuff like that and either as low has already mentioned this kind of campaign was orchestrated by Russia and pro-russian organization supported this kind of this kind of activity and some of the priests threatened to the members of the Parliament to banish them from georgian orthodox church not to say their name is the praying so the christian is a ritual in georgian orthodox church to name someone during the prey so they threatened intimidated as a member of the parliament in it to say their words during the prey it’s some kind of religious sanctions and they try to push put pressure up on them but Parliament and one men very powerful men in Georgia who used to be our prime minister was very confident to adopt such as this law so no pressure although the georgian orthodox church is too powerful Omni potential institution in my country about a ninety percent believe in church and this is very powerful institution and problem politicians are worried reluctant to go against to stand against them in this case this pressure a parliament was resisted to the pressure put up and the georgian orthodox church and the bill was passed but civil rights organization this is the next picture of us we’re not happy with this law because okay we we support we supported the initiative that the sexual orientation and gender identity should be kept in this law but we wanted effective mechanism mechanism was capable of enforcing this law we don’t want our woodsman’s that critics just just

criticize the alleged discriminator but it did not bring any outcomes any effects and effective effects this kind of a recommendation however parliament also did a rejecter parliament rejected our initiative as well so we have the ombudsman with its non-binding recommendation okay let’s talk a little bit about the ombudsman institution and the other institutions in charge of implementing this anti-discrimination law this second institution is a court let’s get started with the ombudsman institution ombudsman has right to investigate the acts of discrimination in and it is it has right to have get again access with any information that is captured in public entities so ombudsman can request this information and this public entity is obliged to give the ombudsman this information within 10 days if the public entity if the public entity does not follow with this requirement Ombudsman has right to feel the administrative protocol this is a motion to submit the motion before the court and court has right to find to impose fine to open the public entity who did not follow the Ombuds not follow the Ombudsman recommendation so this is about the upper tautou obtaining this information however private entities is not obliged to cooperate with the Ombudsman so Ombudsman can ask an information while he’s investigating this case but private entity has right not to react not to respond and just ignore the Ombudsman’s request don’t answer those don’t send any letters don’t send any answer this is what our anti-discrimination law says and it’s great obstacles in our legislation and for Ombudsman incapability of Ombudsman tube effectively investigates the acts of discrimination that is committed in private sector Ombudsman is incapable to investigate this kind of discrimination and our organization had such a case so this case is about our and Charles he is a black man living in Georgia he’s British national one day he visited restroom McDonald’s restaurant and two white Georgian man did not want to share the same table with a black person and they asked to keep her keep a distance out of her outer out of them so go to another table this was the request of course mr. Chow’s did not obey the request and this to one of the men one of the Georgian man attacked on him and the god of this McDonald’s restaurant not react on this act so and also this guy called to police and also police did not intervene in this case this RN Charles applied to the Ombudsman but Ombudsman was not was not in Kappa was not capable of investigating this case properly as the McDonald’s has no way linked to cooperate with the Ombudsman so Ombudsman had to close the case without any success so Ombudsman said that I’m incapable of finding an effects of discrimination in this case of this is one of the effects of this in effect in effectiveness instead of this institution and and I want to say and another novelties of this law this is about pardon of proof who should prove that discrimination takes place I think this is one of the great greatest achievements of Georgian legislation as the LH discriminator or defendant is obliged to prove or bore the burden of proof that no discrimination takes place however plaintiff should indicate the facts that constitutes reasonable doubt reasonable suspicious that defendants commits the act of discrimination what does the reasonable suspicion means it’s very tough questions and it is it is a

question that was not answered or according to the court was not answered by Jehovah Witnesses so we had a small town I’ll to alta loma’ of this town in western giorgia so Jehovah Witness congregation obtained a construction permit to build their church or they called them royal buildings this is the religious building religious entities for jehovah witnesses and they obtained this kind of permits from the mayor of the city but local Orthodox Christian communities started to protest against the construction of this building and mayor forced to revoke its permit and he gave interview to the local news to the to the newspaper and he said that this building is about to construct in front of school in front of school and the the members of the congregation would adversely affect on this people on this student on the minors and they would not allow them to build such a building in front of the school and therefore the mayor evoked such a permission and Jehovah Witnesses apply to the court and court said that okay mayor breach the law he did not fool follow the procedures that is prescribed by law but there were there where no discrimination as this kind of statement do not in do not constitute reasonable doubt that discrimination takes place we also court upheld this complaint but no discrimination we have found so it’s not easy for plaintiff to say that certain act constitutes reasonable doubt that discrimination takes place and even such a statement such a discriminatory statement by the public official according to the approach of Georgian courts do not constitute this reasonable doubt standard did not did not attain this reasonable doubt standard set is were is not inka inka for me that does not correspond with the case love the European Court of Human Rights they are they aware sim a case not similar but the case when ration when the mayor of Moscow said that he would not allow made at press Tate meant that he wouldn’t he would not allow gays to conduct the assembly in the street of Moscow and European Court of Human Rights says this is this discriminatory statement creates some doubts that discrimination has taken place against this LGBT groups but this approach wasn’t it taken by the georgian court and this reason is a unawareness of the european standards on discrimination and our judge needs to be trained on this standard and on the anti-discrimination law as well and I think this case is a missed opportunity for georgian court to use anti-discrimination law effectively okay we and what we can expect from the court to we can bring action to the court and request eradication of discrimination and received of moral and material damage and how can we calculate the moral damage it’s two weeks because law does not say anything in this regard okay Georgian legislation does not prohibit or anti-discrimination law does not prohibit hate speech at all so hate speeches according to the Georgia legislation is a protected speech and no one has right to submit the complaints to the ombudsman office so we have and case about a georgian national with Armenian ancestry armenian origin who was written to be deported from georgia for his critical political statement by the by the employ of state corporation and this lady or the public employee posted this discriminatory statement on our Facebook page and this lady our

victim of this hate speech applied to the Ombudsman institution and Ombudsman declared this application inadmissible as the Georgian anti-discrimination law did not prohibit hate speech and hate speech is the part of freedom of expression I want to say a few words about fending and one successful cases so the pending cases is about the Muslim population who lived in who who lived and lived in a jar origin copulate city of Kabul a tissot Muslim congregation decided to open campus for the Muslim student and local Christian population where against this intention first they inserted the head of the pig on the door of this campus in order to offend the religious feelings of the Muslim population as ends a block blocked the entrance of this building and did not allow children to get in so this campus has not been opened yet and police did not react on this issue and our colleague organization EMC inner educational and more human rights educational and monitoring center sends this case to the patio me City Court but this Court has not rendered its decision and I want to say a few words about successful cases so one City Council this is the bottom city council council adopts or dinners and ordinance so and impose higher fees for foreigners to visit Georgian but to Batumi botanic garden so foreigners should pay eight lari but Georgian national should pay to larry’s and we out my organization apply to the ombudsman institution and Ombudsman agreed on assets this is a discrimination and issue the recommendation or and ask the patio me City Council to repeal this ordinance this discriminatory or ordinances that there is no justification for a different treatment in this case but we don’t do not know the answer from batumi City Council badtameez City Council has right to just to disregard this recommendation so this is I can say a few words about the progress report the last report on implementation by giorgia it’s visa liberalisation action plan easy to train the public employees and society on anti-discrimination law on equality and tolerance issues this is the only recommendation of the EU regarding anti-discrimination policy in Georgia thank you for your attention thank you very much for the two presentations and I think we already have a lot of questions and it was a good introduction of the situation now my first question because of my background as well so the first question I have that ok we heard the story but what are the so called the national minorities in this story in the region and mainly in the visa great countries when we refer to add nick minorities they usually say national minorities so my question that we looked at the civil society groups even playing the scenario with the government pushing for anti-discrimination we would say that in countries like mud over twenty one percent of the population made of national minorities wherever they what was the perspective whether they were active whether they were supportive whether they participated in in this movement I’m asking both countries what was the perception and what was the active level of activity okay as I have already mentioned so in Georgia we have very important forums for ethnic and religious minorities this is the ethnic minority counsel and religious minority counsel under the umbrella of the ombudsman institution of georgia so for examples georgian armenians azerbaijan ian population as well as Greeks Russians and other members of ethnic

minority as well as Muslims Roman Catholics and as a religious organization are part of this council and while this anti-discrimination world was drafted by the Ministry of Justice Ministry of Justice met to this council and she heard the opinion of this member of this council and I have already mentioned that this process was transparent unlike the process that was take play oh no are not by are not agree with me but I i I’ve attended several several meetings and members of religious and ethnic minority was present they are okay you can you can have your comments but that is what what what I saw while this process was well this Louis drafting I’m talking about the members of this council that is created by the Ombudsman minority and religious a religious minority and ethnic minority counsel the process that was take that took place in the government was not worry transparent and the process the reading of this law was okay well this law was read in the parliament members of ethnic and religious minority did not participate in it was yet only NGOs civil rights ngos were part of this process and according to the statistics produced by the ombudsman institution they about 100 complaints was registered by the ombudsman institution and most of this application deals with discrimination based on political views it’s a suppression of political opposition and a second is the algebra violation of LGBT rights and the syrtis discrimination based on religion and the number of ethnic and racial discrimination is law according so we can say that ethnic minorities do not often uses this law even this anafu ineffective law is not often used by the ethnic and religious minority in this case I have already mentioned case of the British national who was kicked out of the mcdonalds is the only case of racial discrimination that was average educated by the ombudsman institution I think the reason is the unawareness of this mechanism by the population and I think this is good recommendation of the EU to increase public knowledge on these issues now on I know Arnold has comments regarding the transparency yeah thank you very much from what you said i I’m sorry I gather the the fact that basically ethnic minorities or national minorities in the countries were not really the champions of pushing for the anti-discrimination framework I might might say that if it is the case why what do you think what is the reason for this way you said some political factors for sure but what would be the reason for this what do you think I think most of religious organization prefer to use so negotiation with the government resident to resort this anti-discrimination mechanistic complain to complain against the government or other private entities but there is exception I can say that Jehovah Witnesses are very active only this congregation is very active in bringing the case before the court but this is the only exceptions as a religious or ethnic minority ethnic ethnic community try to use the negotiation and mediation mechanism rather than the anti-discrimination mechanism it is their approach I think or we have representative of community organization from Georgia and he can just explain why they don’t use this kind of mechanism Ombudsman mechanisms the court mechanism it’s it’s the approach and it’s a strategy that is

taken by this organization so we can convince them to use this mechanistic when tlie and it is a task of the government and civil rights organization to convince them and to encourage them to bringing this case is to the court so we have a lot job to do a lot of job to do in order to make them active in this regard I think the bad news is that the politician opposition politician most frequently use this kind of mechanism in order to blame the government of discrimination based on political views not the ethnic minorities I would like to open and address the question to our colleagues from Ukraine that whether it was the same situation or the same situation regarding the level of involvement of national minorities into the anti-discrimination law drafting negotiation and the entire process thanks Sofia I will not tell you the whole story behind anti-discrimination legislation agreed it was more or less similar to model one and George an experience at least in that part that it was pushed by European Union and we have to say for the whole process for this visa liberalization promise to have the legislation in Ukraine but unfortunately no one was involved in the process of drafting because it was not transparent and open it was Ministry of Justice work overnight and then it was registered in the parliament so without any attempt to discuss whether civil society it was rather the process of commenting it later to the first of all was adopted and national minority NGOs ball to certain extent we’re involved not so much religious minorities but now if you look at the statistic this provided by a national equality body which is Ombudsman in Ukraine as well we see that it’s mostly religious complaints that are coming out of almost 500 complaints last year it’s 154 complaints on the religious discrimination slightly less complaints on that ethnic or racial discrimination and just one complaint coming from LGBT person we had the same concern and same protests from church another actors saying that so it’s not Ukraine and that needs this Baba the slow not national religious minorities but just these LGBT people and you’re behind them so I’d see that the militia is four years since that’s the practice we keep since Soviet Union we had perception that minorities in a country what they need our festivals music and foods and that’s it they’ve been trained to expect that kind of support from the state and it was the practice that you could create inherited and accomplished for 22 years just giving money for festivals I’m not talking about what is minority rights what is integration process so people expected this from state and still expect these kinds of support and the many of them do not understand what a minority rights what to demand when they start they see that the state is not ready to provide it to them we are not talking about inclusion we are not talking about integration we’re not talking about representation in the political process and that’s the reason behind not using anti-discrimination legislation but I will not I will stop here because there are many many things around the slow in Ukraine and not not just from low but the implementation process okay thank you very much i think it was quite a straightforward answer to my question the next question that came to my mind and I’m going to ask you all that you said that you reach the basic basic standard and now you are expecting to move on so my question would be what are the next steps you are expecting you also criticized the EU a bit saying that they request only public awareness raising at the bit of training for the public officials so what do you see what is the what are the next step ano po when in your opinion but before we go to this this question I would like to ask the visa great countries 11 of them who are in the room that one is the moment when you you have the basic standard and then you move on and you move forward so when one is the moment it’s well how much time they need to wait for reaching at the point when you are more or less

satisfied with the system you have and more or less you have what you need to have so give them some promises or or not hello I’m from a Visa card country I’m from the Czech Republic now it’s love to say something very positive and I like to talk about all the beautiful steps that we’ve taken and about our perfectly functioning anti-discrimination legislation but unfortunately i would i would probably conclude that we’re we’re in that situation as well in one word it’s good and then two words is not good and precisely because we have the same problem the legislation is not bad but the implementation is very difficult because there are no reinforcement mechanisms that are really effective and that’s precisely what Gil was talking about was the no competence of the Ombudsperson to enforce the the statements that the day issue so it would be the major problem and the access to justice that is still a big challenge in our countries as well first of all I’m not criticizing EU for recommending Georgian government’s to increase the knowledge of Pablo of public employees and the public general general public on anti discrimination issue it’s very important and crucial thing but i think it’s not enough okay even if the knowledge of public employees where increased and their sensitivities enhanced on this issue it would not help those who are being discriminated because they need effective mechanism to cure the effects of discrimination to eradicate this discrimination but we do not have such an effective mechanism and i would like that EU you would keep pressuring georgian government to amend this law in order to create effective mechanism to enhance Ombudsman institution to enhance and to give effective and comprehensive remedy to the court of common jurisdiction so our expectation from the EU and from the visa liberalisation process is to create effective anti discrimination mechanism that that is that is all we want from this process I just to respond to your question because my colleague from the Czech Republic responding but and I didn’t want the first instance because my the next presentation is mine but but maybe I should tell us something so i would i would like to be very optimistic but i cannot but i wouldn’t say the time skeptic I’m realistic so Ravi asked whether the turning point has already arrived back in Slovakia so after 10 years of the adoption of the antennas entities commercial law in 2004 the turning point has not come yet installed like him but you know this is some kind of like a chemical process who would who would would expect that that the island would adopt adopt an act on on civil partnerships like two years ago and they did it so that most Catholic country Europe so but but so sometimes the last the last drop the last drop in the in the the cause is enough to bring the change but but so that the last drop can come at a time you have to do a lot of things so that it comes so that’s that’s the only answer that I can give you thank you is there any questions i had a question if there is still time because you both stressed that I always stress it also that what’s very important in this implementation of anti-discrimination legislation is the scope of the competence of the Equality body that you stressed a lot that it doesn’t have enough competence do you have a clear idea what sort of competence should be added to the ones already existing or how it could work because when I was when we were when we’re dealing with this in the Czech Republic I agree with what you’re saying in this we need to broaden the scope we found out that actually for example the right to file actions in the court only has the Norwegian equality body and they never use it they don’t use it because they perceive it as a conflict of

interest they would not be independent investigators in that case so do you have an answer to this is there a way just one run remark that we have an entire session three on the role of equality body and the value-added of this section that we will have to equality buddy member one from aldo and one from hungary so it’s also an option to discuss in front of them maybe they have would feel free to answer I don’t know who wants to first of all in order for Georgia to success on equality rights Ombudsman needs effective mechanism regarding private sector this is the most weak weak side of our anti-discrimination mechanism it’s very weak point of our arm our Ombudsman institution and I think Georgian Georgian law should amend in a way to entitle to interest the Ombudsman some maybe a repressive mechanism towards the discriminator towards the those private entities who refrain from cooperating with him for example this McDonald’s instance when this restaurant totally disregard the request of the Ombudsman and did not provide any information regarding the instance of discrimination that has taken that has been taken and taken place to the to this restaurant and I think first of all Ombudsman should get effective mechanism and of course and axio popularise mechanism would be better to represent the interest of this earth mostly affected groups before the court I think it’s it must be good for our ombudsman institution and useful to combat discrimination you