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"Human Rights Watch" - Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Should Do their Best

13.12.2005

"Human Rights Watch" - Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Should Do their Best


The European Union should press for concrete benchmarks on torture, freedom of expression and other key human rights issues on Monday when it holds ministerial-level meetings with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Human Rights Watch said on the 9th of December.


The government of President Mikheil Saakashvili has had an uneven record on human rights since it gained power following the Rose Revolution in late 2003. Despite the government’s ambitious reform agenda, human rights abuses continue unchecked in many spheres, following patterns established under previous governments. 
 
Constitutional amendments adopted in 2004 increased the president’s influence over the judiciary, further eroding judicial independence. A subsequent presidential decree issued in April led to the dismissal of significant numbers of judges through an arbitrary decision-making process that failed to set clear criteria for deciding which judges would be removed from their positions. 
 
Although the media is now relatively free, it has become less critical of the government, and there are signs of increasing government influence on media content. 
 
The government has taken some positive steps to prevent torture, but torture and due process violations continue to be reported. Refugees, mainly from Chechnya, remain vulnerable to abuse at the hands of the police and other authorities. 

”The EU should only agree to action plans that set concrete benchmarks and specific timelines for progress on human rights,- said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. And the EU must firmly state the consequences if these countries fail to comply.”   

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