The undersigned organizations would like to respond to the statement of H.E. Hubert Knirsch, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Georgia, posted on the embassy’s official Facebook page on June 25. The statement was in response to the Georgian NGOs’ critical assessment of Ms. Sopio Kiladze’s nomination for the membership to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Ms. Kiladze is the member of the Parliament of Georgia.
First and foremost, we would like to extend to His Excellency the assurances of our highest consideration. We would also like to express our appreciation of the long-standing strategic partner – Germany and express our gratitude to the German people for their continued support to the democratic development of Georgia. At the same time, we believe it is crucially important to provide additional information in response to the Ambassador’s public statement.
H.E. Mr. Hubert Knirsch saw the NGO letter to the UN member states as a personal attack against Ms. Kiladze and compared it to the unhealthy competition among political parties and while appreciating the important work done by civil society organizations in Georgia, he warned NGOs against “descending to such a level”.
The undersigned organizations attach paramount importance to having highly qualified and reputable Georgian experts in the UN Committees. Therefore, we would have championed our support to the state in selection of the most qualified candidate for the CRC membership, had it happened in an open and transparent manner, in full compliance with the procedures and criteria established by the UN.
In our intervention with the UN member states, we carried no political agenda, but to ensure that the CRC candidate has the highest professional and personal integrity, and a proven record of accomplishment of promoting and protecting all fundamental human rights. That is why we were dismayed and highly concerned that the selection of a candidate for the CRC happened in Georgia without public consultation, in secrecy, and in a process that disregarded the UN recommended procedures and streamlines for the selection of the candidates.
The UN establishes the criteria for committee membership, which requires, inter alia, expert knowledge and experience of a candidate in the field of the protection of the rights of the child, his/her values and attitudes towards the civil society, unwavering adherence to the recommended candidate selection process, etc. These are the criteria that all the UN committees should be guided by, and the same is expected from the states nominating their candidates.
As we have pointed out in our statement, the candidate nominated by Georgia fails to meet the crucial criterion of high expert knowledge in the field of the rights of the child. Neither does she have any academic nor other research work performed in this field, which would prove her relevant expertise and experience, which is a requirement for a candidate for the CRC membership.
We believe that the state-nominated candidate in Georgia vastly lacks personal and professional integrity and is notorious for her openly confrontational attitude to the civil society that is critical of her public statements and work. There have been myriad of well-documented instances of Ms. Kiladze’s verbal abuse of human rights defenders and activists, homophobic and discriminatory public statements, public display of selective approaches to human rights protection, particularly with regard to the LGBTQI community and children. This has been the common practice of the candidate to such an extent that the civil society had to resort to the various forms of open protest on several occasions[i]. Various international and local organizations and the media have reported these facts.
We would, therefore, like to underline that the statement made by the NGOs is not an attack of a personal nature, but the candid assessment of the facts that disqualify the nominated candidate from taking the CRC membership. It is not only desirable, but also the duty of the civil society organizations to call out such a lack of integrity, selective application of human rights by the candidate and disregard of the procedures by the nominating state.
We were surprised by H.E. Ambassador’s assessment, linking our substantiated criticism with political processes in the country. Incidents of such nature undermine the efforts of civil society organizations, especially when the criticism is attempting to reveal the attacks on human rights and violation of democratic governance principles by the state.
While respecting democratic processes, nobody should politicize this issue and thus willingly or unwillingly contribute to weakening of civil society in Georgia.
- Partnership for Human Rights (PHR);
- Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF);
- Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI);
- Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI);
- Transparency International Georgia (TI);
- Tbilisi Pride;
- Institute for Democracy and Safe Development (IDSD);
- Equality Movement;
- Rehabilitation Initiative for Vulnerable Groups;
- Women’s Initiatives Support Group (WISG);
- Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) Georgia;
- Movement Accessible Environment for Everyone (MAEE);
- LGBTQI Association – TEMIDA;
- Independent Group of Feminists;
- Georgian Portage Association;
- Media Development Fund (MDF);
- Center “Empathy”;
- Women’s Fund in Georgia;
- Families Against Discrimination (FAD);
- Georgian Mental Health Association;
- Woman and Reality;
- Georgian Down Syndrome Association;
- Cooperation for Democratic Development (CDD);
- Partnership for Social Welfare (PSW);
- DIVINE CHILD FOUNDATION OF GEORGIA ( DCFG );
- Institute for non-violent communication (INC);
- Initiative for Social Changes;
- Society BILIKI
- Liberty Institute;
- Partnership Children;
- Georgian Academy of Childhood Disability (GACD);
- INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR CHILDREN WITH LEUKAEMIA;
- International Scout Centre Rustavi ISCR;
- Policy and Advocacy Institute for Equal Opportunities;
- Governance monitoring center (GMC);
- GEORGIA`S REFORMS ASSOCIATES (GRASS);
- Platform for New Opportunities (PNO);
- Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC);
- Georgian Young Greens.
- Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT) with the member organizations:
- Human Rights Center (HRC);
- Union “Safari”;
- Georgian Centre for Physiological and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victim (GCRT);
- Media Institute;
- Rights Georgia.
[i] The Coalition for Equality responded to Sopio Kiladze’s discriminatory and homophobic statement that she was not going to protect sexual minority representatives and believed that it was up to her to decide whether to protect sexual minority representatives or not. It triggered a large protest in the country –https://bit.ly/3cNY5YW http://equalitycoalition.ge/article/25; https://bit.ly/2YqQmee;
Petition for calling for Sopio Kiladze’s resignation was created by LGBTQI organizations – https://bit.ly/2AbOPk8;
Sopio Kiladze unlawfully restricted the freedom of expression to a member of the LGBTQI community on her official Facebook page, which was eliminated during the dispute at court –https://ghn.ge/news/217222?fbclid=IwAR338e2UEw1JlykcnCRC2W_4eCPzlCuM8NvBFHG4iFicDBsUs9gkrW-3Oew;
Sopio Kiladze uses hate speech against the LGBTQI community, which has repeatedly been criticized by the public and because of which the civil society demanded her resignation from her position as the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration – https://bit.ly/2BLMsVm; https://bit.ly/30sjaFN;
Ms. Kiladze verbally assaults human rights defenders while using her power and restricts their freedom of expression. These facts have also become the subject of protests expressed by international and local organizations. Due to the fact that Sopio Kiladze attacked the civil society, the non-governmental organizations were forced to hold rallies demanding her resignation – https://bit.ly/2AYnl1q; https://bit.ly/30t0568,
The largest coalition in the country created to ensure equality and to protect people from discrimination – Coalition for Equality responded to Sopio Kiladze’s discriminatory and insulting attacks on human rights defenders, which condemned her approaches to human rights defenders – https://bit.ly/2AkrEnD;
The Partnership for Human Rights (PHR) had to file a complaint to the Parliament against Sopio Kiladze, alleging the violation of the ethical norms of a member of parliament, in order to discuss the violation of ethical norms by the MP – https://bit.ly/3hdvhfF;
The Human Rights House functioning in a number of countries responded to Sopio Kiladze’s attack on human rights defenders – https://hrht.ge/en/defamatory-and-degrading-statements-towards-human-rights-defenders-by-the-chair-of-the-human-rights-committee-are-alarming/.