The constitution provides for an executive branch that reports to the prime minister, a unicameral parliament, and a separate judiciary. The government is accountable to parliament. The president is the head of state and commander in chief. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) termed the October parliamentary elections competitive and administered in a manner that respected the rights of candidates and voters, but it stated that the open campaign atmosphere was affected by allegations of unlawful campaigning and incidents of violence. According to the ODIHR, election commissions and courts often did not respect the principle of transparency and the right to effective redress between the first and second rounds, which weakened confidence in the election administration. In the 2013 presidential election, the OSCE/ODIHR concluded the vote “was efficiently administered, transparent and took place in an amicable and constructive environment.” While the election results reflected the will of the people, observers noted several problems, including allegations of political pressure at the local level, inconsistent application of the election code, and limited oversight of alleged campaign finance violations.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces.
The most significant human rights problems reported during the year included: arbitrary detentions and deprivation of life by Russian and de facto authorities of Georgian citizens along the administrative boundary line with the country’s occupied territories; shortcomings in the justice sector, including pressure on the judiciary in selected cases; and weaknesses in state institutions, including insufficient parliamentary oversight of law enforcement agencies, which raised concerns about illegal surveillance and inconsistent government responses to select law enforcement cases.
Other problems included ineffective mechanisms to address alleged abuses by law enforcement officials, some substandard prison conditions, reduced space for political dialogue in the media and credible reports of pressure on the leading independent television broadcaster, restrictions on freedoms of assembly and association, substandard living conditions for internally displaced persons (IDPs), underrepresentation of minority groups in government, persistent concerns about government corruption, and pressure on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from government and influential former government officials. Domestic violence against women, gender-biased sex selection, early marriage, trafficking in persons, discrimination against persons with disabilities, instances of societal intolerance of members of minority groups, as reflected in hate speech, religiously based hate crimes, and HIV/AIDS social stigma were also reported. The country also lacked a legal framework for labor inspection.
The government took steps to promote accountability by punishing officials who committed violations in the security forces and elsewhere in government, but shortcomings remained.
De facto authorities in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remained outside central government control and were supported by several thousand Russian troops and border guards occupying the areas since the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia. A cease-fire remained in effect in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian border guards restricted the movement of the local populations. While there was little official information on the human rights and humanitarian situation in South Ossetia due to limited access, allegations of abuse persisted. With the exception of one international human rights assessment, access to Abkhazia was also limited.
De facto authorities in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia restricted the rights, primarily of ethnic Georgians, to vote or otherwise participate in the political process, own property, register businesses, and travel. De facto South Ossetian authorities refused to permit most ethnic Georgians driven out during and after the 2008 conflict to return to South Ossetia. De facto authorities did not allow most international organizations regular access to South Ossetia to provide humanitarian assistance. The Geneva International Discussions cochairs representing the United Nations, OSCE, and EU special representative for the conflict in Georgia visited South Ossetia in September, accompanied by representatives of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). Russian “borderization” of the administrative boundary lines of the occupied territories continued during the year, separating residents from their communities and undermining their livelihoods.