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Research Results – Are Human Rights Protected in the Country?


 Natia Gogolashvili

The Georgian polling agency ACT published the nationwide research - Human Rights and Access to Justice in Georgia: Public Perceptions and Awareness, commissioned by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The research aimed to evaluate the awareness and knowledge of respondents about human rights. Also to study the perception of respondents towards those main institutes which are responsible for the defense of human rights and access to justice.
Findings of the study are based on the results of 5,000 face-to-face interviews in four regions of Georgia, 14 focus group discussions and 29 in-depth interviews with representatives of four target groups: public sector, business, non-governmental organizations and LGBT community. 
64% of the interviewed people state that human rights are more or less protected in Georgia. 5 years ago, 46% of the interviewed people believed that human rights are protected in the country. Majority of the interviewed people (27%) thinks the labor rights are the most violated in the country. Respondents were very positive towards patrol police - in comparison to other state institutions they declared the most trust (67%) to patrol police. More than half of the respondents (52%) think that patrol police is responsible for the protection of human rights; 39% of the respondents think the same about the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Every third respondent (30%) expects the Public Defender’s Office to defend their rights. 
As for the institutions, which violate the human rights the most, the respondents think they are the prosecutor’s office (10%); the Parliament of Georgia (10%) and Ministry of Internal Affairs (9%). It is noteworthy that 70% of the respondents could not answer this question. 
10% of the interviewed people have heard about the Human Rights National Strategy 2014-2020. 9% of the respondents say they were aware about the Action Plan too. According to the research, 57% of the respondents think the rights of national, ethnic and religious minorities are breached. At the same time, it was estimated that the minorities speak less about the violation of minority rights than Georgian respondents. 
Half of the respondents (52%) have heard about free legal service in the country. The main source of information about free legal services is television (84%). The people positively evaluate the work of the state funded legal aid service - in the 6-point rating the service received 4.2 points.
The respondents, who are aware about free legal aid service, most frequently named the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (66%). 30% of respondents named the public advocate. 12% of the interviewed people named Human Rights Center as the organization where they can get free legal service. As for the question, which free legal aid service would they use – 10% of respondents answered it is Human Rights Center. It is noteworthy that in 2014, according to the research conducted by CRRC, after the state institutions Human Rights Center ranked the first place in the poll where people were asked – which of the following institutions comes to your mind when you think about judiciary? 
The new research showed that population receives information about free legal aid from mass media: television (85%); radio (5%) and printed media (7%), from acquaintances (18%) and social networks (15%). 
68% of the respondents have heard about the Public Defender’s Office. The main source of information about PDO is television (90%). 75% of the people, who are aware of the PDO, trust to the Public Defender; 73% of them are ready to apply to the PDO in case of necessity. 33% of respondents think the Ombudsman’s office often fails to defend the human rights.
38% of respondents positively answered the question whether the situation in the Georgian judiciary system has improved or not. 10% thinks the situation has worsened. 18% of respondents fully trust the judiciary, 45% more trusts than mistrusts to the court. 30% of the respondents think the prosecutor’s office permanently oppresses the judiciary system. 8% of respondents think the situation in the prosecutor’s office has worsened for the past 5 years. 35% thinks the situation in the prosecutor’s office has improved. 37% thinks nothing has changed in this regard.
29% of the respondents prefer to receive most information about labor rights. Also, 19-24% of the Georgian population would like to receive information about the right to privacy, equality, right to life, right to honor and dignity, right to health. Consequently, 27% of the respondents believe the labor rights are most violated in the country; 19% of respondents believe the right to life is violated, 17% of people believe the right to equality is violated. 
The research was conducted by the Georgian polling agency ACT and was commissioned by the EU and UNDP. 

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