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The creation of a permanent international criminal court (ICC), which seeks to punish individuals most responsible for the gravest international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes has been a significant development for the protection of human rights and an important achievement for the international community. July 17 marks the adoption of the Rome Statute – the founding treaty of the ICC – and is therefore commemorated as an International Justice Day worldwide. On this occasion, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and a group of Georgian human rights organisations issued a letter to the ICC regarding its ongoing investigations in Georgia. The letter recommends strengthened ICC presence and outreach in the country.
Letter to the Prime Minister of Georgia:
In a letter to the Prime Minsiter of Georgia, NHC has joined several human rights organisations to express our concern about the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli, an exiled Azerbaijani journalist, on 29 May in Tbilisi. He went missing after leaving his colleagues in the evening, before resurfacing the following day in Baku in the custody of Azerbaijan’s state border agency. Mukhtarli reports that he was forced into a car near his home, tied up and beaten. His abductors put a bag over his head and 10,000 euros were stuffed into his pockets while crossing the Azerbaijani border. We question the role of Georgia in letting this abduction take place.
Human Rights Center (HRIDC), Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) call on the Georgian authorities to take concrete steps towards accountability for crimes committed during 2008 war, including, renew investigative activities, ensure access of victims of the August 2008 war to their national case file and renew communication with the victims in order to respect their rights to effectively participate in national proceedings.
During the first round of the Parliamentary Elections in Georgia on 8 October 2016, three international election observers were attacked and the vote count disrupted in the village of Jikhashkari. One observer was beaten and two others had their mobile phones taken away from them by force. It is vital that the incident is properly investigated.
The final report of the limited election observation mission to the Republic of Georgia is ready.The mission was organised
jointly with the European Platform of Democratic Elections (EPDE), the International Partnership of Human Rights (IPHR), the
International Elections Study Center (IESC) and
the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC).
(Berlin, Brussels, Oslo and Tbilisi, 9 October 2016) The joint international election observation mission of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), International Elections Study Center (IESC) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and was established in Georgia on 12 September. On Election Day, the Mission deployed 36 international observers who visited more than 200 polling stations across the country. This preliminary statement summarizes our findings.
(Brussels, Oslo and Tbilisi, 9 October 2016) During the Georgian Parliamentary Elections on 8 October 2016 a violent incident occurred in Western Georgia. A group of unidentified men broke into polling station 79 in the village of Jikhashkari in the Zugdidi district, disrupted the counting procedure and physically attacked international election observers, who represented the joint mission of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE).
A delegation from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, in cooperation with the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) and International Partnership for Human Rights, is in Georgia to observe the upcoming Parliamentary Elections 8 October 2016.
”The Norwegian Helsinki Committee welcomes the decision by Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on October 8 to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC to open an investigation of core international crimes during the war in Georgia in 2008,” says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
The “Coalition for Trust”, a three-year regional project funded by the European Commission and co-funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, started in late 2012 and works in all entities of the South Caucasus to restore confidence and build people-to-people contact by opening up new perspectives on conflict transformation. The initiative is implemented on the ground by local partner and associate organisations in the regions. NHC is working with the partners to develop and deliver a broad-ranging educational programme for close to 300 students, journalists and civic activists.
OSCE meeting in Warzaw:
NHC is active at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2014 which is currently taking place in Warsaw.
Policy Paper 4/2014:
The NHC presents our fourth policy paper of 2014. The policy paper discusses the failure to investigate the crimes of the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008, and highlights the importance of a continued involvement in the Georgia war crimes situation by the International Criminal Court.
-We can report only minor irregularities here in the Batumi area, and for what we have witnessed, the elections process this time is a big step forward for Georgia compared to what we have seen in previous elections. NHCs Aage Borchgrevink is in Georgia together with colleagues to observe the presidential elections in Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsike and Batumi. Even though we are aware of irregularities, compared to previous years, people are not put under pressure, they are more open and they went to vote in a calm manner, Borchgrevink says.
Job vacancy announcement:
We are currently seeking a highly qualified person to be the regional coordinator of the (EU-funded) program “Coalition for trust” in the South Caucasus. The aim of the program is to contribute to building knowledge and trust between people in a region marked by conflict and human rights violations. Activities include education and training, network building, advocacy and activism.
NHC report 3/2012:
Tblisi,10 November 2012: Grave crimes were committed during the war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008. The NHC documented war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after the cessation of hostilities. In the years since, the NHC has investigated in Georgia and Russia, trying to assess whether domestic investigations are on-going and effective.
Parliamentary elections in Georgia:
(29/05-2008) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is monitoring the situation in Georgia closely during the parliamentary election that was held yesterday.
(23/06-2008) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was present with two election observers at the parliamentary election in Georgia on 21 May 2008.
(24/10-2008) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee advisor Aage Borchgrevink is currently in Tblisi to investigate alleged occurences of war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after the armed conflict in August.
Georgian Ombudsman Sozar Subari:
(19/11-2008) -Even though we have had differences with South-Ossetia for a long time, we had reached a stage were our peoples did not have much differences any more.
(20/11-2008) The Georgian Human Right Centre has handed over documentation detailing allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after the armed conflict between Georgia and Russia to a representative of the Prosecutors Office of the International Criminal Court, Mr. Matthew Brubacher.
The Freedom of Expression Foundation:
(25/02-2009) Three of the prize winners for this years press prizes ”Free Press of Russia” and ”Free Press of Eastern Europe”, was nominated by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
(22/02-2010) A group of human rights organisations condemn the pressure and intimidation exerted by Georgian authorities against leading investigative journalist Vakhtang Komakhidze, and denounce a continuous defamation campaign against Mr. Komakhidze.
The report The Impunity Syndrome in the Caucasus: The Situation of the Georgian-Russian conflict of August 2008, is a follow-up of the report Unable or Unwilling? Georgia’s faulty investigation of crimes committed during the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008, which the NHC published earlier this year. The new report investigates the current situation and the latest developments in the conflict, and it concludes that since Russian and Georgian investigations in relation to the August 2008 war have proven ineffective, the Prosecutor of the ICC should at the very least require proof of progress in domestic investigations within a defined timespan. Download the report below.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is actively and well represented at this years' OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw. In our interventions at the meeting we will focus on freedom of religion in Central Asia, rule of law in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and freedom of expression in Macedonia, Bosnia and Serbia. We are organising a side-event on lack of justice after major human rights violations in Russia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Additionally we organise a side-event on strikers' rights in Kazakhstan and we are also co-organising a side-event with particular focus on Ales Bialiatski and the release of political prisoners in Belarus. Below you will find links to the HDIM webpage, all documents from our side-events and interventions and other relevant links.
Today the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) publishes a new report on Georgia with the title, Unable or Unwilling? Georgia’s faulty investigation of crimes committed during the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008. Based on interviews with a large sample of witnesses to and victims of alleged crimes, the NHC concludes that Georgian authorities are at least both partly unable and partly unwilling to conduct an effective investigation into crimes falling within the jurisdiction of International Criminal Court (ICC) allegedly committed during and after the August 2008 war.