MINELRES: Georgia: NGO elaborates draft law on national minorities

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Jun 26 18:37:43 2004

Original sender: Arnold Stepanian <pmmg@caucasus.net>

Dear Friends,

Let us inform you that the Union "Public Movement Multinational Georgia"
worked out Concept of its long-term development and future activity. We
are pleased to represent it to you.

In attachment you will also find draft-law "On rights and freedoms of
national minorities in Georgia" prepared by our organization. It may be
interesting for you.


Arnold Stepanian
Chairman of the Union "Public Movement Multinational Georgia"

>From the MINELRES moderator: The both texts mentioned above will be sent
to all interested list members by request.

Elucidatory Notes

On the Georgian draft-law "On Protection of Rights and Freedoms of the
Ethnic Minorities in Georgia"

On April 27 of 1999 Georgia became the full-fledge member of the Council
of Europe.  When admitting to this international organization our
country committed itself with certain obligations, including the
ratification of several documents concerning the human rights.  Within
the frame of those obligations and commitments on January 21, 2000
Georgia signed the European framework Convention on Protection of Ethnic
minorities.  The Convention hasn't been ratified yet.

Unlike of other Conventions related to the human rights this document is
not self-executive.  Its realization is possible together with the
relevant national legislation.  According to the recommendation of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Georgia had to adopt the
Law on Ethnic minorities within two years after admission to the
organization in accord to the principles of 1993 Parliamentary
Assembly.  So far this recommendation is not implemented.

Taking into account the aforementioned fact it's clear that Georgian
Parliament first shall ratify the framework Convention on Ethnic
Minorities.  At the same time, realization of the Convention is
impossible without relevant implementing legislation. 

Presented draft-law is aimed at establishing the firm legal basis in
Georgia for implementation of the Convention.  The Draft-law respects
the recommendations of the UN's human rights treaty structures (in
particular, the Committee Against the Racial Discrimination) and of the
OSCE on promotion of representation of the ethnic minorities in the
state official organs.

The Draft-law is based on the Constitution and Georgian legislation
currently in force but it also consists certain innovation proceeding
from the international obligations committed by Georgia.

In General Part of the draft-law there is a definition of terms, as well
as the sphere of its application.  There is a provision, which secures
free choice of affiliation to the ethnic origin (Article 4) and the
provision on prohibition of forcible assimilation (Article 5).  It
should be mentioned that definition of the term of "Ethnic Minority" is
also given there but it's not exhaustive and gives the notion of this
term only within the frame of this draft-law.

In Chapter 2 of the draft- law the principles of equal treatment and
equality of ethnic minorities are considered.  Article 6 and Article 7
of the draft-law provides the guarantees for equal treatment and
equality based on the provisions of the Constitution of Georgia (Article
14 and Article 38,2).  Article 8 of the draft-law reiterates the
disposition of Article 142,e of the Criminal Code (Violation of
Equality), and Article 9 reiterates the disposition of Article 142
(Racial discrimination).

Chapter 3 of the draft-law introduces the fundamental rights and
freedoms of ethnic minorities.  Article 10 should be mentioned in this
context as it touches upon the positive obligations by the state.  In
the international law on Human Rights the concept of positive
obligations is widely respected and it considers achievement of real
equality between minority and majority.  It must be underlined that this
context considers not only the equal "starting conditions", but also the
criteria of "final result".  At the same time, Article 10 (3) makes
reference that the proposed measures will be continued until the
practical equality is established within the different groups of the
Georgian population.

Chapter 3 of the draft-law considers the following:
- Encouragement of the traditions of tolerance and inter-cultural
dialogue by the state (Article 11);
- Right on education and usage of minority languages (Article 15 and
17).  When discussing the rights on education we referred to the
Georgian law "On Education".  In particular, paragraphs 2,3, and 4 of
Article 17 of the draft-law are based on the provisions provided by the
law "On Education" (Article 4.2, Article 40.2,3 as well as Article 15). 
As for Article 15 of the draft-law, alongside of Constitutional
guarantees it considers the requirements of the frame Convention
(Paragraph 2), as well as Lundy Recommendations of the OSCE on
participation of ethnic minorities in the decision making process
(paragraph 3).
- Freedom of expression, conscience and information, peaceful assemblies
and associations (Article 12 and 14).  These provisions are based on the
Constitution of Georgia, Civil Code (Article 1509), the law on
"Assemblies and Manifestation" and the law "On Public Associations of
the Citizens".  The provisions on violation of those rights and relevant
sanctions are formulated with respect of Criminal Code of Georgia
(Article 153, 155, 161 and 166); 
- Learning of Georgian language by ethnic minorities (Article 18);
- Right of ethnic minorities to participate in state affairs and state
management (Article 19).
Article 20 of the draft-law incorporates one of the most important
provisions of the Frame Convention on Protection of Minority Rights that
is aimed at preventing from unlawful acts by the state at the places of
minority's compact settlement.

Article 21 of the draft-law reiterates the provisions of Article 38 (3)
of the Constitution regarding the necessary conditions to exercise the
minority rights.

Chapter 4 of the draft-law introduces a new structure - establishment of
the Council for inter-ethnic and Ethnic Minorities relations, determines
the statute and authority of this organ.  The structure of the mentioned
consultative organ is similar to the Council of Justice of Georgia.  

It should be taken into account that the implementation of Article 14
(4,5), Article 17 (2) and Article 18 (3) requires special funds from the
state budget and the local budgets too.  At the same time we have to
mention that the funds for fulfillment of the tasks considered under
aforementioned provisions are already being allocated.  The exception is
paragraph 5 of Article 14, which actually needs additional funding.