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TDI
Dec/1913

Key Developments on Xenophobia and Rights of Foreigners in 2019

December 10 is the International Human Rights Day. On this occasion we overview some of the key tendencies on racism, xenophobia and the rights of foreigners this year: 

In recent years, there has been an alarming rate of unjustified refusals by relevant authorities to issue residence permits to foreigners, especially citizens of Asian and African countries. In addition, the state adopted more complicated legal regulations on foreign nationals. 

For example, on May 30, 2019, the amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons entered into force. [1] Also, on July 2, 2019, the Organic Law of Georgia on Agricultural Land Ownership was enacted, on the basis of which a number of restrictions were imposed on foreigners to acquire property rights on agricultural land. 

The regulatory norms and its content on the purchase and sale of agricultural land have been amended several times since 2011. It is noteworthy that the Constitutional Court of Georgia has repeatedly declared the regulations adopted by the Parliament of Georgia unconstitutional in this regard. [2] 

Also, it is noteworthy that 2019 was particularly marked by xenophobic and populist statements by politicians. [3]

As in previous years, in 2019, violence, aggression and xenophobia against foreign nationals (especially from Asian and African countries) continued in Georgia. In 2019, there were several cases of alleged racially motivated violence.[4] In addition, on June 27, 2019 the court passed a guilty verdict on the murder case of young human rights defender Vitaly Safarov.  However, the court excluded the charges regarding the hate motives of the crime (subparagraph (d) of Article 109.2) - Murder under aggravating circumstances due to racial, religious, national or ethnic intolerance;[5] The human rights defenders appealed the decision. 

According to the information received from the General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia,  in the first half of 2019, criminal proceedings were brought against four persons on the ground of racial discrimination. 

According to the information received from the Supreme Court of Georgia, in the first half of 2019, one case was filed in the City (District) courts of Georgia on the ground of racial/ethnic/national intolerance, under the Article 142(1) (Racial Discrimination); Two cases were filed at the Court of Appeals; And according to the information there were no cases filed at Supreme Court of Georgia under the above-mentioned articles. 

The problems of foreigners crossing the Georgian border should be outlined as well. The state often unlawfully refuses to allow the representatives of certain countries to enter Georgia. [6]

For example, looking at the statistics for the beginning of 2019, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia: In January 2019 the most refusals were given to Iranian (576), Indian (366) and Azerbaijani (124) citizens. In February, 2019 - 564 Iranian, 428 Indian and 141 Azerbaijani citizens were denied entry to Georgia and in March, 2019 - 1815 Iranian, 404 Indian and 228 Azerbaijani citizens were refused to cross the border. [7]

 

 

[1] For instance, according to amendments, D5 category migration visa can be granted to alien who owns property on the territory of Georgia, the market value of which is higher than 100 000 usd equivalent for gel. According to the old wording of the law, this limitation was defined as 35 000 usd equivalent for gel. In addition, for the labor residency permit, apart from the document that certifies the job and the salary of the foreigner, it is also necessary to provide the document about the annual turnover of the employer company. The limit of the turnover must be not less than 50 000 gel per an employed foreigner in the company.

[2] See TDI’s report, page 47   http://tdi.ge/sites/default/files/tdi_report_on_racial_discrimination_and_rights_of_foreigners.pdf

[3] See the Quarterly report of TDI: http://tdi.ge/sites/default/files/racism_and_xenophobia_jan-march_2019_english.pdf 

[4]: See the Quarterly report of TDI: http://tdi.ge/sites/default/files/racism_and_xenophobia_jan-march_2019_english.pdf 

[5] See the article of Radio Tavisupleba (available in Georgian): https://rb.gy/ot6m2y 

[6] See TDI’s report, page 44 http://tdi.ge/sites/default/files/tdi_report_on_racial_discrimination_and_rights_of_foreigners.pdf 

[7] See the Quarterly Report of TDI: http://tdi.ge/sites/default/files/racism_and_xenophobia_jan-march_2019_english.pdf