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Human Rights Center Has Turned 20!


 Natia Gogolashvili

On December 9, Human Rights Center marked its 20th birthday in the National Library of the Parliament of Georgia. Representatives of the international and local nongovernmental organizations, diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia, state institutions and media attended the event. 

Human Rights Center was founded on December 10, 1996 on the International Day of Human Rights. Ucha Nanuashvili was one of the founders and executive director of the organization before 2012; now he is Public Defender of Georgia. He attended the 20th birthday event of Human Rights Center and shared his reflections about the organization with the invited guests.

“During its 20 years-long experience, Human Rights Center has gone through very difficult times. Time was changing together with challenges but the position of the Center remained the same. It was always faithful to its principles. In fact, during years, regardless cataclysms and political changes, the Center managed to maintain independence and was critical towards all governments. It is important that during these years the Center implemented many projects and managed to help very many citizens, whose rights were violated; it still continues active work in this direction,” Ucha Nanuasahvili said.

For many years, Human Rights Center has been implementing various projects, which aimed to promote better defense of human rights. The purpose of the Center is to improve defense of human rights, basic freedoms and promote peacebuilding process in Georgia. To achieve that, it is important to raise public awareness and strengthen respect of human rights; the government shall respect the Rule of Law, principles of transparency and equality to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

“We do our best to achieve our goals but there are many challenges; during every authority we faced different problems. For examples, in the recent period violence against women, domestic violence, violence against religious and ethnic minorities have become very acute problems in the country. While, during the previous authority we had completely different problems: political persecution, restriction of free media, deprivation of properties, and other. Consequently, we have to work on different problems,” executive director of Human Rights Center Aleko Tskitishvili said.

The fields of the activities of Human Rights Center are: strengthening rule of law; promoting access to justice; promoting equality and integration of vulnerable groups; transitional justice; strengthening democratic processes and peacebuilding; defense of human rights. 

“Human Rights Center provides torture victim prisoners with free legal aid, defends their interests at the national and international courts. The Center monitors the conditions of prisoners in penitentiary establishments; at the same time, we work on institutional reforms and improvement of the legislation in the field of the penitentiary system. The lawyers of Human Rights Center work on the institutional reforms in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, prosecutor’s office and penitentiary system. We submit legislative proposals to the Parliament of Georgia to eradicate legislative miscarriages. The Center represents 113 applicants in front of the European Court of Human Rights; majority of applications refer to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, deprived right to life, breached right to fair trial and property rights from the side of the state; the Center also represents victims of the 2008 August war in the Strasbourg Court. At the same time, the Center represents 193 victims of the 2008 August War in front of the Hague International Criminal Court,” head of the Legal Aid Service Tamar Avaliani said.

Human Rights Center has implemented several projects for the defense of religious minorities; within framework of the project representatives of the religious minority groups were defended in front of the national courts and international mechanisms. Human Rights Center defends women – the victims of domestic violence and provides them with free legal aid. The Center works on the cases of femicide. 

“Trust-building is one of the major fields of activities of Human Rights Center. First large-scaled initiative of the organization in this direction was Sorry Campaign which was commenced in 2007. It was followed by more other initiatives including the project Coalition for Rebuilding Trust, which was implemented under coordination of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in the South Caucasus Region in 2012-2015. The Coalition unites organizations, civil activists and peacebuilders from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan; and what is most important, human rights organizations and experts from Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh are also members of the Coalition,” said Nino Tlashadze, deputy executive director of Human Rights Center. 

Representatives of partner nongovernmental organizations also attended the jubilee of Human Rights Center.

“This organization has done much good to promote democracy and human rights in Georgia. I am very proud that I also contributed to its work when I worked at Human Rights Center in 2008-2010. I hope the Center will continue its active participation in public life and defense of human rights. It is very important that the Center has been fighting for the defense of human rights for many years regardless the ruling powers in the government of Georgia. Human Rights Center respects its principles and not the political contexts, that is particularly important for the human rights organization,” Ana Natsvlishvili, head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, said. 

“I love what Human Rights Center does. It is basement of the development of this country in the terms of legal and human aspects. The Center has done much good in Georgia. This organization fights strongly against torture and inhuman treatment,” head of the Georgian Bar Association Zaza Khatiashvili said.

“It is team of professionals, who have very strong spirit and enthusiasm to defend human rights in the country.  Their good deeds and results are very tangible and I hope this team will have much more success. I want to wish them success, as they are one of the best organizations,” board chairwoman of Human Rights House Tbilisi Nino Elbakidze said.

“I think Human Rights Center is very important organization, which works in many directions that directly ensures improvement of the state of human rights in Georgia,” head of the Public Advocacy Irina Putkaradze said.

Human Rights Center is member of different international organizations: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); World Organization against Torture (OMCT), Human Rights House Network; Coalition of the NGOs for the International Criminal Court (CICC); Human Rights without Frontiers; International Peace Bureau (IPB); European Network for Civil Peace Services (EN.CPS); UNITED for Intercultural Action – against Nationalism, Racism, Fascism and for the Support of Migrants and Refugees; Child Rights Information Network (CRIN). 

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