Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, released his fourth annual report on the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe – “Populism – How Strong are Europe’s Checks and Balances?” – on April 20, 2017.
Apart from other European countries, the report also touches upon the conditions of judiciary system, media pluralism, freedom of assembly, elections, social rights and good governance in Georgia.
On budget allocation to judicial systems across the Europe, the report pointed out that Georgia is among the six countries which spent the least – lower than EUR 20 per capita.
Despite the adoption of the law on broadcasting which “encourages all responsible authorities” to “continue strengthening the independence and diversity of public and private media,” the Secretary General stated that concerns “have been expressed about the past and continuing changes in media ownership, which have an impact on media pluralism and diversity” in Georgia.
“Efforts to change the ownership of the country’s most popular TV station have caused continual concern among many international interlocutors and in civil society,” the statement read, apparently referring to Rustavi 2 case, which led the European Court of Human Rights to suspend the Georgian Supreme Court ruling.
Regarding freedom of assembly, the Secretary General said that the Georgian legislation prohibiting “spontaneous” assemblies “also raises concerns.” In this respect, it recalled the march of International Day against Homophobia in 2012, where the “Court held that the authorities had failed” in “sufficiently containing homophobic and violent counter-demonstrators.”
Furthermore, the document stressed on inequalities existing “in the political representation of certain groups such as persons with disabilities, minorities, internally displaced persons and young people and between men and women.”
“Progress is starting to be visible with asset declaration systems being gradually improved, the introduction of e-declaration systems, the widening of their scope and more in-depth monitoring,” the report read.
The report also pointed out that the CoE Committee of Ministers also welcomed “the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation in the field of employment.”