Human rights situation remains ‘alarming’ in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry’s fourth quarterly report, published on February 23.
The report, based on open sources and compiled in coordination with various governmental agencies, covers the period from October to December, 2016 and lists human rights violations in and around Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including inhuman treatment, arbitrary detentions, restrictions of freedom of movement and mass infringement on property rights, as well as restrictions of the right of education in the native language.
“These two regions still remaining under unlawful foreign military occupation, constitute above all dangerous “black holes” in terms of holding the human rights violators accountable,” the report said.
“Restrictions on freedom of movement remained an issue of concern during the reporting period,” the report noted.
The Foreign Ministry said that the installation of barbed wire fences and “other artificial obstacles” on the occupation line “adds to the gravity of the otherwise tense situation.”
“Currently, the total length of razor wire and barbed wire fences and other artificial obstacles along the occupation line in Tskhinvali Region is nearly 52 km (overall length of the occupation line is more than 350 km) and along the occupation line in Abkhazia is 48 km (overall length of the occupation line is around 145 km),” reads the report.
“The Russian FSB officers regularly carry out arbitrary detention for the so called “illegal border crossing” along the occupation lines with Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. In most cases detentions are followed by fines and later release. Detention period can last several days or several months, in some cases several years,” the report explained.
Quoting the State Security Service data, the Foreign Ministry said that the Russian FSB officers detained 2 775 people for “the so called illegal border crossing” between 2008 and December 12, 2016; 1788 (190 in 2016) of them along Abkhazia and 987 (132 in 2016) of them along South Ossetia.
According to the report, the Russian FSB officers and the de facto authorities “regularly take actions which amount to torture and ill-treatment.” “For years, there has been a regular flow of information on inadequate detentions conditions in so called “detention centers” in the occupied regions of Georgia,” it clarified.
The Ministry expressed “serious concern” over the introduction of new citizenship and residence regulations in the two territories, which “in many ways target” the ethnic Georgian population living in two regions.
It also voiced its concern over the situation with regard to the right to education in the native language in Abkhazia’s predominantly ethnic Georgian-populated Gali district.
According to the report, “drastic changes have been made” in the curriculum of those 11 schools, which were previously considered as all-Georgian; Russian language teaching was introduced in the first four grades and all subsequent entry-level classes will start teaching in Russian.
“The above policy, if continued for several years, would result in gradual replacement of the Georgian curriculum with the Russian curriculum for all grades,” the report claimed.
“The right to education in the native language remains problematic also in relation to freedom of movement,” it also said.
The decision to close down two more crossing points along the occupation line with Abkhazia “will create further impediments” to the schoolchildren going to schools on the territory controlled by Tbilisi, “as they have to pass additional several kilometers every day.”
At the end of the report, the Foreign Ministry called on the international community to take “immediate and adequate measures” for eradication of human rights violations and all forms of ethnic discrimination in the two territories.