UN independent expert Chaloka Beyani [official profile] commended [press release] the government of Georgia Monday for its ongoing commitment to improving the living conditions of internally displaced people (IDPs) but called for the country to develop an integrated approach to address all waves of IDPs. Specifically, Beyani encouraged the government to address equal land, housing and property rights for displaced women in accordance with international standards. Beyani stated:
New opportunities now exist for taking an inclusive integrated approach for all waves of IDPs, in the country. ... These include: the proposed revised legislation on IDPs; the realignment of the 2007 strategy on IDPs with the proposed law; the onset of a new registration exercise for all IDPs that should as well profile their vulnerability and needs, and inclusive policies being formulated by the Government in the fields of health, land, agriculture, education, and employment generating activities.In order to reach a durable solution, Beyani urged politicians to resist political deadlock: "I call upon all parties concerned to urgently reach a political solution to enable those internally displaced persons who wish to return to their areas of origin to do so voluntarily in safety and dignity."
Thousands of people were displaced and several thousand were killed as a result of conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia [BBC backgrounders; JURIST news archive] in the early 1990s. The 2008 conflict [BBC report] between Russia and Georgia caused the number of refugees to rise again. In January Georgia's parliament freed 190 prisoners [JURIST report], many of which were arrested while protesting Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili, as part of an amnesty agreement that was strongly opposed by Saakashvili. In December Georgian Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili announced [JURIST report] that the former justice minister in Georgia, Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili, was set to be charged on December 26 in connection with the torture of prisoners in the country's capital of Tbilisi. The prosecution investigated allegations of torture in the prison. In September UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on authorities in Georgia to investigate [JURIST report] prisoner mistreatment after video footage allegedly depicted the torture and rape of prisoners in the country's capital of Tbilisi.