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De facto South Ossetian authorities must drop charges against Georgian Human Rights Defender

12.02.2020

 
63 members of the network of Human Rights Houses urge the Russian government to use their influence and position to drop charges against Tamara Mearakishvili, expressing their deep concern about legal actions taken by the de facto South Ossetian authorities against the prominent Georgian human rights defender.

Statement by network of Human Rights Houses, updated on Tuesday 04 February 2020 to reflect additional signatures

On recent actions by de facto South Ossetian authorities targeting human rights de-fender Tamara Mearakishvili and call on the Russian government to see that these charges are immediately dropped.

We, the 62 undersigned members of the network of Human Rights Houses express their deep concern about legal actions taken by the de facto South Ossetian authorities against prominent human rights defender, Ms. Tamara Mearakishvili. The charges and subsequent legal action by the de facto government come after efforts by Ms. Mearakishvili to expose government corruption in de-facto South Ossetia. Ms. Mearakishvili’s efforts are basic and legitimate human rights activities and Ms. Mearakishvili should be afforded all protections due to human rights defenders.

Following the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, Russia exercises effective control over the territory of de facto South Ossetia. As such, we urge the government of the Russian Federation to use their influence and position to drop the charges against Ms. Mearakishvili and halt the proceedings immediately.

Ms. Mearakishvili, an ethnic Georgian resident of the de facto South Ossetia town of Akhalgori, is a freelance journalist and activist currently facing reprisal by the de-facto South Ossetian authorities for her vocal support for human rights in South Ossetia and efforts to expose corruption.

In April 2017, the newspaper “Echo Kavkaza” published an interview with Ms. Mearakishvili where she discussed corruption in the Akhalgori municipality. Two months later, in June 2017, she was abducted and illegally detained by individuals who threatened her physically and with a defamation suit because of the interview. Following her release, a number of criminal cases were launched against her and a travel ban placed upon her.

On January 17, 2020, the de facto South Ossetian Supreme Court returned two criminal cases against Ms. Mearakishvili to lower courts for further consideration. We are deeply concerned that the de facto South Ossetian authorities are intending to use this process to exile Ms. Mearakishivili against her will.

Ms. Mearakishvili is a human rights defender and the Russian government, which exercises effective control over de facto South Ossetia, must protect her rights as a human rights defender. We urge the Russian government to see that the charges against Ms. Mearakishivili are immediately dropped.

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, signed by the following member organisations:
Belarusian Association of Journalists
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Belarusian PEN Centre
Human rights center “Viasna”
Legal Initiative

Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv, signed by the following member organisations:
NGO MART
Center for humanistic technologies AHALAR
Human Rights Center ZMINA
Association of Ukrainian human rights monitors on Law Enforcement (Association UMDPL)
Ivano-Frankivsk regional organization “Moloda Prosvita”
The “East-SOS” Charitable Foundation
Chernihiv public committee of human rights protection
No Borders Project
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Centre of civil education “Almenda”

Human Rights House Azerbaijan, signed by the following member organisations:
Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center
Legal Education Society
Women’s Association for Rational Development (WARD)

Human Rights House Belgrade, signed by the following member organissations:
Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
Civic Initiatives
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
YUCOM – Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
Policy Center

Human Rights House Crimea, signed by the following member organissations:
Almenda
Crimean Human Rights Group
Human Rights Center ZMINA
Regional Centre for Human Rights
Human Rights House Oslo, signed by the following member organisations:
Health and Human Rights Info
Human Rights House Foundation
Kvinnefronten
Fellesrådet for Afrika

Human Rights House Tbilisi, signed by the following member organisations:
Article 42 of the Constitution
Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)
Human Rights Centre (HRIDC)
Media Institute
Sapari

Human Rights House Yerevan, signed by the following member organisations:
Women’s Resource Center
Real World, Real People NGO
Pink Human Rights Defender NGO
Socioscope NGO
PEN Armenia

Human Rights House Zagreb, signed by the following member organisations:
a.B.e. – Be active! Be Emancipated!
Center for Peace Studies
CROSOL – Croatian Platform for International Citizens Solidarity
Croatian Youth Network
Documenta – Center for dealing with the Past

Russian Research Centre of Human Rights, signed by the following member organisations:
Human Rights Network Group
Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia
Moscow Center for Prison Reform
Moscow Helsinki Group
Right of the Child
Right to Live and Have Civil Dignity
Social Partnership Foundation
Union of the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia
Initiative Center for the Caucasus
 
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