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TITLE:  GEOGIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            GEORGIA


Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.  
Following multiparty parliamentary elections in 1992, 
Parliament chose Eduard Shevardnadze as its Chairman in an 
uncontested election and named him Head of State.  The Head of 
State appoints the Prime Minister and the members of the 
Council of Ministers (Cabinet) who, with other executive 
officials, report to him.

At the end of 1993, Georgia agreed to a U.N.-brokered cease-
fire with Abkhazian separatists, who had forcibly taken control 
of the entire Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in 1993.  In 
April Abkhazian, Georgian, Russian, and United Nations 
representatives signed an agreement on the resettlement of 
internally displaced persons (IDP's); a peacekeeping force, 
drawn nominally from the Commonwealth of Independent States 
(CIS) but comprised entirely of Russian forces, was deployed 
along the Inguri River which separates Abkhazia from the rest 
of Georgia.  The role of the UNOMIG (United Nations Observer 
Mission in Georgia), already deployed in Georgia, was enlarged 
to include monitoring the actions of the peacekeeping force.  
Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia in November.

Attempts to reform the police, security services, armed forces, 
and paramilitary forces were only partly successful in 1994.  
The Government's anticrime campaign reduced much of the random 
violent crime in Tbilisi, the capital, and curbed some of the 
abuses committed by these forces.  However, corruption on the 
part of law enforcement officials and police brutality are 
pervasive.  Police routinely beat and otherwise mistreated 
detainees during pretrial detention.

Internal conflicts and the disruption of trade links with other 
republics of the former Soviet Union have left Georgia's 
economy in ruins.  Dependent on imported fuels for which the 
Government could not pay, Georgia has endured an acute energy 
crisis, including the complete stoppage of natural gas 
deliveries from Turkmenistan between mid-November and early 
December.  Water, electricity, and natural gas are frequently 
unavailable, even in Tbilisi, the capital.  With industry 
functioning at 20 percent of capacity and inflation as high as 
50 percent per month, the standard of living of the population 
dropped further, making the country dependent on humanitarian 
grain shipments from abroad.

A further burden on the Government's limited resources is the 
contribution by the Government to the 250,000 people displaced 
from Abkhazia and a lesser number from South Ossetia.  The 
refugees and IDP's are housed at government expense in 
reassigned public buildings and receive small support 
stipends.  Surveys undertaken jointly by nongovernmental 
organizations and the Government indicated that the displaced 
and refugees were satisfied with the level of financial 
support, although they remain critical of slow progress in 
repatriation efforts.  CIS peacekeepers were unable to create a 
safe environment in Abkhazia for the return of IDP's, stating 
that police functions were not part of their mandate.  The 
Abkhazian authorities allowed only a few hundred ethnic 
Georgians to return and, just prior to the first resettlements, 
razed 4 Georgian villages, killing 20 persons, after unknown 
assailants had killed 4 Abkhazian police.  Abkhazian 
authorities called for ethnically cleansing Abkhazia of all 
Georgians by September 27 and were credibly reported to have 
tortured, raped, killed, expelled, and imprisoned hundreds of 
Georgians and other non-Abkhaz.

In South Ossetia, a 2-year-old cease-fire, monitored by CIS 
peacekeepers and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in 
Europe (CSCE), partially succeeded in curbing human rights 
abuses in that region.

Human rights abuses continued in the rest of Georgia, including 
apparent extrajudicial killings, hostage-taking or kidnaping, 
police beatings of detainees and demonstrators, arbitrary 
detention, denial of fair public trial, and arbitrary 
interference with privacy and home.  There were no known 
summary executions in 1994, although the state of emergency 
decree that permitted the practice was not lifted until 
October.  Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association 
were significantly less restricted, although some instances of 
abuse still occurred.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In the fall of 1993, during the state of emergency, the 
Minister of Internal Affairs reportedly personally shot and 
killed at least one of nine youths in Zugdidi who were accused 
of looting.  The Minister appears so far to have evaded 
repeated calls for an investigation into his role in the 
summary executions which occurred in Zugdidi in 1993.

It is often difficult to distinguish between criminal activity 
and political killings.  For example, the assassination of the 
Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs in March, in which 
individual police officers were implicated, appears to have 
been the work of mafia elements.  The bombing of the Armenian 
Theater in Tbilisi in June, which resulted in one death, may 
have been the work of Azerbaijani sympathizers as an outgrowth 
of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  The attempted bombing of a 
Moscow-bound passenger plane carrying a former Georgian defense 
minister, who is also a crime world figure, may have been 
either politically motivated or the work of criminal elements.  
The paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni, also called the 
Georgia Rescue Corps, remains actively involved in widespread 
criminal activity.  Since several small factions feud among 
themselves, it is unclear whether recent assassinations of 
Mkhedrioni members were the result of factional disputes, 
vendettas, or political motivation.

The State Committee on Human Rights and Interethnic Relations 
(SCHR), in a report issued in 1994, claimed that 50 detainees 
died, and many others required hospitalization, while being 
incarcerated at the Tbilisi interrogation cell in 1993.

The head of the Abkhazian parliament reportedly has claimed 
that the Abkhazian authorities have made good-faith attempts to 
bring to trial 40 people associated with political killings and 
other atrocities carried out against Georgian civilians during 
the war.  However, independent observers have not verified that 
claim.

     b.  Disappearance

The fate of many Georgians and Abkhaz who have disappeared 
since 1992 as a result of the Abkhazian conflict is still 
unknown.  Over 1,000 Georgians are still reported missing, 
according to the SCHR, which maintains a current list.  Some 
are thought to have been executed, and rumors persist that the 
Abkhaz are holding others in secret forced labor camps within 
Abkhazia.

Amnesty International appealed to the Government in 1994 to 
investigate the status of seven ethnic Abkhaz who reportedly 
were detained by government forces in Sukhumi in October 1992.  
Amnesty International listed these persons as "disappeared."  
The Government considers these individuals missing but reported 
that it had no information about their alleged detention and, 
without access to Abkhazia, asserted it was unable to 
investigate the matter.

Among the many persons who disappeared during the Abkhazian 
conflict are 46 Georgians whom Abkhazian forces, according to 
the Government, seized in September 1993 in Sukhumi, along with 
the former chairman of the council of ministers of Abkhazia.  
The Abkhaz executed the former chairman, despite Russian 
assurances of safe conduct out of the region, but the fate of 
27 of his staff members and 19 soldiers is unknown.  The 
Government has repeatedly appealed to international human 
rights groups to investigate this case.

The 1994 SCHR report charged that peacekeeping contingents in 
South Ossetia engaged in hostage-taking in 1993.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

High government officials admit that law enforcement personnel 
routinely beat detainees.  Officials often resort to physical 
and psychological abuse to extract information and 
confessions.  Most of the abuse reportedly occurs during 
pretrial detention.

Physical abuse also occurs, though apparently less frequently, 
during the trial period of a criminal defendant's 
incarceration.  The press reported that Viktor Domukhovski,
1 of 19 defendants in a well-known trial of alleged terrorists, 
claimed that prison officials beat him for refusing to 
relinquish his diary (see Section 1.e.).  Domukhovski's wife 
reported that he was again beaten on December 11, this time by 
fellow prisoners, but with the complicity of at least one 
prison official.

Nongovernmental human rights groups reported significantly 
fewer abuses by the Georgian security services during 1994.  In 
some instances, however, the security services reportedly 
resorted to threatening, intimidating tactics during 
interrogations.

In general, prison conditions deteriorated parallel with the 
economic situation.  Prison officials could not provide 
adequate food and medicines for inmates, who in turn relied on 
their families and friends to supplement the meager supplies.  
Prison infirmaries lacked medicine to treat diseases like 
tuberculosis and dysentery, which are prevalent in the 
prisons.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 
was permitted visitation rights to all regular prisoners but 
was not allowed unrestricted access to the extradited former 
military commander, Lote Kobalia, who served under deposed 
Prime Minister Zviad Gamsakhurdia and was being held virtually 
incommunicado by the security service.

The SCHR reported that prisons were overcrowded, with 12 to 15 
inmates frequently sharing cells designed for 3 to 4 persons 
and with 2 persons sharing individual bunks.  Interrogation 
cells are extremely cramped and unsanitary, and prisoners are 
not protected from violence and brutal treatment.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Although the Government nullified relevant Soviet-era 
legislation, Parliament still had not finished drafting new 
laws governing arrest and detention procedures.  While some law 
enforcement officials continued to abide by Soviet-era law, the 
consequent legal vacuum opened the door to significant abuse.

Under the former Soviet-era law, prosecutors issued warrants 
for arrests and searches.  Persons caught in the act of 
committing a crime could be legally arrested without a warrant 
and be detained for up to 72 hours.  After this time, police 
were required to request and receive permission from the 
prosecutor for continued detention.  The law requires the 
prosecutor to file charges within 72 hours, but criminal 
suspects are often held in pretrial detention for over a year 
before prosecutors file formal charges against them.

A detainee has the right to demand immediate access to a lawyer 
and to refuse to make a statement in the absence of counsel.  
The detaining officer must inform the detainee of these rights 
and must notify the detainee's family of his location as soon 
as possible.  A suspect has the right to demand the presence of 
counsel during all questioning.  The presence of an attorney is 
mandatory during the interrogation of a minor or of an 
individual accused of a capital crime.  The presence of a 
teacher or a parent is also obligatory during questioning of a 
minor.  However, these rights are frequently violated.

Police may administratively detain a person without a warrant 
for several violations, including participating in an illegal 
demonstration, but a senior Internal Affairs Ministry official 
or an administrative judge must approve the detention within 
3 hours.  A judge, who may sentence the defendant for up to 15 
days' imprisonment, must then decide the case within 24 hours.  
Authorities frequently ignore these legal requirements.

In mid-September, Abkhazian authorities arrested and detained 
nine ethnic Georgians fishing off the Abkhazian coast, claiming 
that the detainees were fishing in Abkhazian territorial 
waters.  Although the Abkhazian authorities want to exchange 
the nine for all Abkhaz currently being held in Georgian 
prisons, the Government maintains that all Abkhazian prisoners 
were transferred to Russian prisons 2 years ago.  A few Abkhaz, 
however, may have been imprisoned since the war in western 
Georgia.

The SCHR reportedly successfully negotiated a prisoner swap 
with Abkhazian authorities in October.  Abkhazian authorities 
released a Georgian held since 1991 in exchange for several 
ethnic Abkhaz who had previously been transferred to Russian 
prisons.

There were no exiles.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Continuing political instability and legislative disarray 
stymied any serious attempts at effecting the rule of law in 
Georgia.  The criminal justice system is governed by a welter 
of conflicting laws from Georgia's brief period of pre-Soviet 
independence, the Soviet era, the Gamsakhurdia presidency (1990 
to January 1992), and the current State Council period, which 
result in uneven and haphazard justice.

Courts of general jurisdiction are undifferentiated as to 
function; judges may hear criminal, civil, and juvenile cases.  
All courts may act as the court of first instance depending on 
the nature and seriousness of the crime, and there are no clear 
rules to determine which court first hears a case.

Prosecutors, ultimately responsible to the Procurator General 
who is appointed by Parliament, are more powerful than either 
judges or defense attorneys.  Prosecutors direct all criminal 
investigations conducted by the Internal Affairs Ministry, 
exercise certain supervisory rights over the judiciary's 
functions, and can request that the Supreme Court review one of 
its own decisions.  In contrast, the judiciary has little 
influence over prosecutors.  Such a system leaves the judiciary 
vulnerable to political and other forms of persuasion, 
particularly at the local level.

The defendant is presumed innocent and by law is supposed to 
enjoy various due process rights.  Judges frequently send cases 
unlikely to end in convictions back to the prosecutor for 
"additional investigation."  Such cases may then be dropped or 
closed, occasionally without informing the court or the 
defendant.

In practice, fair public trials are the exception rather than 
the norm, due largely to the incompetence and corruption of the 
judicial branch, which is packed with Soviet-era appointees.  
Proceedings are not conducted in an adversarial manner.  Many 
judges reportedly accept bribes and take instructions from 
powerful individuals both inside and outside the Government.

The trial of 19 people implicated in the 1992 attempted 
assassination by car bomb of Mkhedrioni leader Jaba Joseliani 
which killed 5 people, including a child, provides the most 
striking examples of the denial of due process.  Authorities 
refused to provide legal counsel to one of the defendants, 
Zurab Bardzimashvili, for several months following his arrest.  
Following the appointment of an attorney not of his choosing, 
in April they denied his request to change counsel.  When he 
suffered an apparent heart attack on August 4, the court did 
not immediately permit him to be taken to a hospital.  
Defendant Zaza Tsiklauri was also denied counsel of his 
choosing and was assigned the same attorney as Bardzimashvili.  
This attorney was threatened with disbarment after she 
complained of being assigned against the defendants' wishes.  
The judge repeatedly denied the requests of defense attorneys 
for Tsiklauri and Gedevan Gelbakhiaini to allow their clients 
full access to the documents in the case.

There are no known political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Intelligence agencies, including both Georgian and Russian 
services, are credibly reported to monitor private telephone 
conversations.  Prior to his assassination, Gia Chanturia, the 
head of the National Democratic Party, complained publicly that 
his office was electronically monitored.

Both paramilitary and law enforcement representatives enter 
homes without legal sanction.  However, most Soviet-era forms 
of interference diminished.

Telephone communications with Abkhazia and South Ossetia are 
almost impossible because local authorities exercise control 
over them.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Internal conflict abated in Georgia during 1994.  Cease-fires 
are in place in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the Government 
has reestablished tenuous control over the western region of 
the country.  However, in Abkhazia and the cease-fire zone 
around Gali, Abkhaz committed egregious human rights abuses 
against the remaining Georgians despite the presence of Russian 
peacekeepers.  Armed indigenous guerrillas in the so-called 
Svanetian-Georgian region of Abkhazia and renegade Georgians in 
the Gali region also committed abuses sporadically.  Confirmed 
evidence of human rights violations is difficult to obtain 
because of the lack of access to the region and the fear of 
reprisal among the victims.

Abkhazian separatists reportedly executed as many as 800 
Georgians and other non-Abkhaz who remained in the Gali region 
of Abkhazia.  From January through April, the following 
executions reportedly took place:  32 in Ganathleba; 40 in 
Gudara; 11 in Muhuri; 14 in Muhurchi; 9 in Tsarchushi; 55 in 
Okami; 16 in Perveli Gali; and 17 in Nabakevi.  The Abkhaz 
police reportedly shot some victims.  They also allegedly 
tortured some victims before burning them to death.  Rape, 
which often took place in front of the victim's family, was so 
common that there were no attempts to keep statistics.  Many of 
those executed allegedly were the elderly and women.

Abkhazian police officers on November 15 seized an elderly 
ethnic Mingrelian man in Kokhoria, attached wires to the man's 
legs, and doused him with diesel fuel.  They then attached the 
wires to a battery and repeatedly shocked the man.  The man's 
relatives found him alive but unconscious.  They alerted the 
police commander, who beat and arrested the officers 
responsible.

Despite international law which provides that IDP's have the 
right to free, safe, and dignified return to their homes, the 
250,000 Georgians who fled Abkhazia during the 1993 ethnic 
cleansing campaign were officially allowed to begin returning 
only in October.  By year's end, fewer than 300 had returned.  
Unofficially, several thousand IDP's spontaneously returned, 
but only at great personal risk.  Until the Russian 
peacekeeping operation took over in mid-November, Abkhazian 
forces were in charge of providing security in the Gali 
security zone.  Days prior to the first official return of 
IDP's in October, 200 Abkhazian police, reportedly in the 
presence of the Abkhazian minister of the interior, razed 
4 Georgian villages in the Gali area, killing 20 persons, after 
unknown assailants killed 4 Abkhazian police officers.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

In practice, freedom of the press in 1994 was almost 
universal.  The authorities did not attempt to reimpose 
censorship of the antigovernment press.  Virtually all 
newspapers that had been closed in the past reopened, some 
under new names.

Opposition leaders also obtained uncensored access to 
television and radio broadcast time, although they frequently 
complained that they did not receive enough air time.  Adjarian 
parliament chairman Aslan Abashidze accused the Georgian 
Government of denying Adjar television 10 minutes a day to 
broadcast on Georgian television.  However, the energy crisis, 
damage from a fire in October at the Tbilisi radio and 
television tower, and paper shortages limited all media.

Journalists covering demonstrations were subject to police 
beatings through most of the year, as well as to harassment by 
political forces opposing their views.  On average, police beat 
one or two journalists per month, including a local Reuters 
reporter on June 14 and another journalist during the October 
visit of the U.N. Secretary General.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Government was more tolerant of antigovernment 
demonstrations during 1994 than in previous years.  However, 
law enforcement troops continued to disperse unsanctioned 
rallies, sometimes forcibly.  In practice, the Government 
allowed demonstrations anywhere except along the main 
thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue, provided the organizers 
requested permission in advance.  Opposition groups apparently 
did not always seek permission and then complained that police 
harassed them while dispersing unsanctioned rallies.  
Frequently, the Government preemptively deployed special police 
(OMON) units, whose chilling presence intimidated would-be 
demonstrators.

On frequent occasions, police briefly detained opposition 
leaders who organized unsanctioned demonstrations.  On July 9, 
police and OMON units forcibly broke up a demonstration 
organized by several opposition parties, and police detained at 
least one of the radical opposition leaders.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Government took no actions to restrict freedom of religion.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The old Soviet system of registering residency still remains in 
place, although enforcement is uneven.  Both foreign and 
internal travel, as well as emigration, are unrestricted.  
There are, however, practical problems with travel in the areas 
of former conflict (see Section 1.g.).

Citizens generally enjoy the right to return, but there is 
continuing controversy over the desire of former, primarily 
Muslim,residents of the Mskheti region, deported from Georgia 
by Stalin in 1944 to return to that area.  Approximately 
270,000 Mskhetians now living in Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, 
Kazakhstan, and other parts of Central Asia face significant 
popular opposition to their return.  The Cabinet issued a 
decree on August 23 that would permit the Mskhetians to return; 
Parliament, however, has not yet passed the legislation to 
implement it.  In November, 150 Mskhetians attempted to return 
via Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, but Russian peacekeepers and 
Georgian police reportedly stopped them.  However, the 
Government has established a repatriation service, which 
currently subsidizes the study of 100 young Mskhetians in 
Georgia.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The 225-member Parliament and its chairman, Eduard 
Shevardnadze, were elected in nationwide, multiparty elections 
in 1992, which international observers judged to be generally 
free and fair despite widespread technical violations.  
Parliament is drafting a new election law to govern the next 
elections, scheduled for October 1995.

In the Adjar Autonomous Republic, Aslan Abashidze was elected 
chairman of the Supreme Council in free and fair elections in 
1991.  The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 
October 1995.

Women and minorities are less well represented in Parliament 
than they were during the Soviet or Gamsakhurdia eras.  The 
participation of women in politics is generally limited, partly 
as a result of longstanding cultural traditions and partly as a 
backlash to the Gamsakhurdia era, when women were perceived to 
be among the ex-president's most ardent supporters.  There are 
only 11 women deputies in the Parliament, and there are no 
women serving in ministerial posts.  The lack of support for 
minority candidates may reflect some resonance for 
Gamsakhurdia's proethnic Georgian policies and the resulting 
conflicts.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Government does not prevent nongovernmental organizations 
from investigating human rights violations.  There are several 
organizations which profess to be human rights monitors, but 
they often are composed of political opponents of the current 
Government and have largely political, rather than human 
rights, agendas.  The members of the All-Georgian Association 
of Human Rights, the Helsinki Union of Georgia, and the 
Historical Justice League predominantly were supporters of 
former president Gamsakhurdia.

In October President Shevardnadze issued a decree that charged 
the SCHR with inspecting the conditions of detainees and 
inmates, offering written appeals to the appropriate officials 
to eliminate such abuses, and inspecting the conditions of 
detainees and prisoners.  It issued a report on human rights in 
Georgia, highlighting a variety of abuses cited above.

The Government cooperates with international human rights 
organizations.  It assisted Human Rights Watch/Helsinki in 
visiting 19 persons on trial for terrorism and other crimes 
(see Section 1.e.) who claimed their human rights were 
violated, as well as in other investigations.  However, no 
organization has yet obtained access to Lote Kobalia (see 
Section 1.c.).

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

There are no legal or constitutional prohibitions against 
discrimination.

     Women

Government concern, as well as the concern of society at large, 
about discrimination against women is limited.  Although in 
1994 Georgia signed the Convention on the Elimination of All 
Forms of Discrimination Against Women, there is no distinct 
women's movement, nor are there academic programs in women's 
studies.  The dominant stereotype that the majority of 
Gamsakhurdia's supporters were somewhat irrational women has 
significantly weakened women's involvement in politics (see 
Section 3).

Women's access to education resources is unimpeded, but women 
are found mostly in so-called traditional occupations, such as 
the arts, languages, and social sciences.  Careers that involve 
technical skills, applied sciences, or supposedly "more 
complex" reasoning are heavily male-dominated.  Women's labor 
is generally low paid and, often, part-time, although 
government positions reportedly are paid on an equal basis.  In 
a growing trend, women engaged in "cottage industries" are 
becoming the primary breadwinners.

Credible statistics on violence against women are difficult to 
obtain.  In July the Ministry of Interior stated that, during 
the first half of 1994, reports of rape had declined by 10 
percent.  Sociologists and domestic specialists claim instances 
of rape and domestic violence are rare; however, the lack of 
statistics could reflect victims' fear of reporting such crimes 
as well as lack of confidence in law enforcement and judicial 
organs.

     Children

The economic crisis which continued to grip Georgia in 1994 
prevented government expenditures on the welfare of children 
adequate to meet their needs.  The severe economic conditions 
have resulted in children being left without homes or being 
forced to beg.  In September a children's advocacy group was 
established, and in 1994 Georgia signed the Convention on the 
Rights of the Child.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Neither the 1921 Constitution, supposedly reinstated in 1992, 
nor Georgian legislation contains antidiscrimination 
provisions.  With the exception of the situation in the former 
conflict zones, the Government generally respects the rights of 
ethnic minorities, although information on areas outside the 
capital is scarce, and some ethnic Azeris from southern Georgia 
came to Tbilisi in September to protest against what they claim 
is unfair treatment.  Local police and officials sometimes 
discriminate against non-Georgians, but the central authorities 
usually try to resolve complaints.

The Government provides funds for ethnic schools, and the 
teaching of non-Georgian languages is permitted.  In 
Azeri-populated areas, where Georgian is not the primary 
language, the poor quality of Georgian-language instruction and 
the wider availability of Azeri-language schools produce 
graduates with limited professional opportunities in Georgia.

     Religious Minorities

Freedom of religion is widely respected in Georgia (see Section 
2.c.).  The Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, however, 
is wary of proselytism and has exhibited an intolerant attitude 
toward the growing Protestant movement.  The Salvation Army 
publicly complained of hostile articles regarding the resident 
Salvation Army mission and of the Georgian Orthodox Church's 
negative disposition.  The Catholic Church has also complained 
of the delay in the return of six churches, closed during the 
Soviet era and later given to the Georgian Orthodox Church.

     People with Disabilities

There is no legislative or otherwise mandated provision 
requiring accessibility for the disabled.  The law on labor has 
a section which includes the provision of numerous special 
discounts and favorable social policies for those with 
disabilities, especially disabled veterans.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Soviet-era Labor Code still in effect in Georgia allows 
workers freely to form unions and associations.  These unions 
and associations must register with the Ministry of Justice.  A 
single Confederation of Trade Unions, made up of about 30 
sectoral unions, is active in Georgia.  Membership in labor 
unions has fallen as the economy collapsed and interest in the 
labor movement declined.

Strikes are permitted, except during a state of emergency.  
Because of the extreme economic crisis, however, there were few 
strikes in 1994.

There are no legal prohibitions against affiliation and 
participation in international organizations.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Labor Code allows workers to organize and bargain 
collectively, and this right is widely respected.  The Labor 
Code also prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers 
against union members.  Employers may be prosecuted for 
antiunion discrimination and, if found guilty, would be 
required to reinstate the employees and pay them back wages.  
The Ministry of Labor investigates complaints but is not 
sufficiently staffed to conduct effective investigations.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Labor Code prohibits forced or compulsory labor and 
provides for sanctions against violators; violations are rare.  
The Ministry of Labor enforces the law.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

According to the Labor Code, the minimum age for employment of 
children is 14 years.  Children between 14 and 16 years may not 
work more than 30 hours per week.  Reportedly, the minimum age 
is widely respected.  Because of the Ministry's inadequate 
resources, unions themselves are often left to enforce the 
minimum age law.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions for Work

A nationally mandated minimum wage applies only to the 
government sector.  In December 1994, the Government raised the 
minimum wage to about $0.50 (1.5 million coupons) a month.  
There is no state-mandated minimum wage for private sector 
workers, who are free to bargain for any wage.

The law provides for a 40-hour workweek, including a 24-hour 
rest period, although the Government adopted a 35-hour workweek 
for the winter period from November 15, 1994, through February 
15, 1995.  The energy crisis in mid-November further prompted 
the Government to permit government workers at their discretion 
to reduce their workweek to 30 hours.

The Labor Code permits higher wages for hazardous work and 
permits a worker in such a field to refuse duties that could 
endanger his life.  The Government has not addressed further 
safeguards for workers.


(###)

[end of document]

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