Comments on the draft law on repatriation of Meskhetians


Reply-To: minelres-l@riga.lv
Sender: minelres-l@riga.lv
From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 12:03:50 +0300 (EEST)
Message-Id: <3B1B4C1A.28150848@mailbox.riga.lv>
Subject: Comments on the draft law on repatriation of Meskhetians

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Guram Mamulia <guram.mamulia@mymail.ge>

Comments on the draft law on repatriation of Meskhetians


Comments on the draft law on 'Repatriation of Persons Deported from
Georgia in the 40s of the 20th Century by the Soviet Regime" submitted
by the Georgian Government to the Council of Europe for consultations

The draft submitted to the CoE by the Georgian authorities in March
2001 concerns the population deported from the South of Georgia (the
region of Meskheti) in 1944 and still waiting the right to be
repatriated. (By the date, the total number of those deported and
their descendants, scattered all over the former Soviet republics in
more than 5,000 populated areas, is c. 300,000; it is the only
"punished people" of the Soviet Union that is still denied the right
to repatriation.) In 1999, the Georgian authorities had committed
themselves before the CoE to create a legislative framework for their
repatriation ("including the right to Georgian citizenship"), by April
2001. (The commitment was not fulfilled in time.)     

As to the draft submitted by the Georgian authorities, it is of
discriminatory nature due to the following reasons:

1. It does not allow the deported Meskhetian population to get the
same rehabilitation status as is granted to other, already
rehabilitated deportees (ethnic Georgians, Greek, Armenians and
others). The latter were rehabilitated by the law of December 1997 "On
Recognising Citizens of Georgia as Victims of Political Reprisals and
Social Protection of the Repressed". This law provides all former
deportees, after simple legal proceedings, through a court decree,
every right that they have lost as a result of political reprisals, as
well as grants them with the right to special social protection.
Neither of these is provided by the draft low. After renouncing the
citizenship of another country, selling off his real estate and coming
to Georgia, the repatriate is only given a formal status of a
repatriate - in fact, the status of an alien or a stateless person -
and still has no guarantee of obtaining the Georgian citizenship. 

2. The draft envisages such bureaucratic procedures and requirements
that could hardly be realised by those deported or their descendants.
In particular, unlike the other victims of reprisals, they must
produce too many documents - including a document certificating the
fact of deportation, which they have never been given. Considering the
facts that after the Fergana pogroms, many of those deported have
changed their residence several times; that after the dissolution of
the Soviet Union they turned out to live in different states; and that
after many misadventures many of them have lost their documents, such
requirements are clearly unrealistic. The draft law denies them the
right to prove their personal identity at court by witness testimony,
as the law "On Recognising Citizens of Georgia as Victims of Political
Reprisals..." envisages for the other deportees. Through all this, the
candidates for repatriation can easily become victims of arbitrary
decisions of bureaucrats of all levels.

3. Unlike the other Georgian victims of the reprisals, the draft law
denies them the right to obtain a decree of court confirming the fact
of their deportation and rehabilitation, which denies them the right
to get special social welfare and allowances for victims of Soviet
reprisals in other former Soviet republics where they live. 

4. The draft law does not provide those having the formal status of
repatriate with the right to freely choose their residence within
Georgia.

5. Unlike the law "On Recognising Citizens of Georgia as Victims of
Political Reprisals...", the draft law does not provide them with the
right to restitution.

Such a law, if adopted, would lead to violation of the fundamental
right to equality before the law and to equal protection of the law,
as stipulated by Art. 2.1 and Art. 26 of the UN International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, acceded by the Parliament of Georgia in
1994.     

The discriminatory nature of the draft law was acknowledged in the
report by a CoE and UN Consultative Body - the Federalist Union of
European Nationalities - following their visit to Georgia in October
2000. 

To draw the attention of the CoE to the discriminatory nature of the
draft law, the Repatriation Service of Georgia collectively resigned
on 23 February 2001.

Meanwhile, the Repatriation Service, together with five NGOs of the
deported population of the former Soviet Union, has developed an
alternative draft which has been duly submitted to the State
Commission on the Deported Meskhetian Population but rejected without
any explanation.

Under these circumstances, we deem it as the best solution, that the
CoE sends an expert to Georgia so that a draft, meeting the
requirements of the CoE, might be adopted through consultations. We
also would be very grateful if CoE would consider the possibility of a
special procedure of monitoring the process of the adoption of the law
and its implementation.

Yours truly,          

Guram Mamulia,
Chairman,
Union-Centre for the Repatriation and Integration of the Deported
Meskhetian Population 
Tel.: (995 32) 98 30 80; fax: (995 32) 94 30 69
E-mail: <guram.mamulia@mymail.ge>

29 May, 2001

-- 
==============================================================
MINELRES - a forum for discussion on minorities in Central&Eastern
Europe

Submissions: minelres-l@riga.lv  
Subscription/inquiries: minelres@mailbox.riga.lv 
List archive: http://www.riga.lv/minelres/archive.htm
==============================================================