The Law on Restitution and Compensation Adopted in 2006 Is Still Unenforced 

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Part of ethnic Ossetian citizens residing in Georgia was forced to leave the Georgia-controlled territory because of 1989-1992 armed conflicts and follow-up controversies between Georgian and Ossetian citizens in different regions of Georgia. 

Human Rights Center studied the national legislation regulating the property restitution process of ethnic Ossetian people as well as granting/restoration procedures of the Georgian citizenship. In parallel to that, the free legal aid provided to ethnic Ossetian beneficiaries in the frame of the HRC project revealed number of legislative miscarriages and barriers that disable the Ossetian people to restore their property rights in Georgia and obtain or restore Georgian citizenship. They face difficulty in obtaining the documents necessary for the property registration in the public agencies that creates additional problems and hinders their human rights defenders to defend their property rights in the common courts of Georgia. 

In 2006, the Parliament of Georgia passed the Law on Restitution and Compensation of the Victims Residing in the Territory of Georgia as a Result of Armed Conflict in the Former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast. The Law aimed to restitute the properties of the physical persons victimized by the armed conflict in the Former Autonomous Oblast of South Ossetia, to provide them with adequate property or pay relevant compensation. It is noteworthy that Georgia took responsibility to pass the law upon joining the Council of Europe. The law obliged the state to establish the commission, which would have considered the issue of restitution and compensation of the property of the victimized families. Nevertheless, since 2006 to present, the Law has not been enforced because the Commission on Restitution and Compensation was not created. In order to obtain more detailed information, Human Rights Center petitioned the Administration of the Government of Georgia to request public information about the reasons why the Commission was not created; however the Administration has not responded yet. 

At the same time, ethnic Ossetian people face problems when they apply for the Georgian citizenship. The state has not created different legal mechanisms for ethnic Ossetian individuals to enable those, who had to leave the Georgian territory as a result of armed conflicts and obtain citizenship of other country, to easily verify their links with Georgia. The legislative regulations also create some obstacles, according to which an individual can re-apply for the Georgian citizenship only one year after being refused to grant the citizenship. It is also noteworthy that after the legislative amendments, the decision of the President of Georgia cannot be appealed in the court. 

Human Rights Center requested public information from respective state agencies to determine accurate number of ethnic Ossetian citizens who left the Georgian territory as a result of armed conflicts; however, the letters received from the state agencies demonstrated that their majority does not process similar information and statistic data. At the same time, neither the President’s administration nor the State Services Development Agency processes the information how many ethnic Ossetian citizens applied to them for the Georgian citizenship. 

Considering the abovementioned problems, it is critically important that the State had accurate information how many people left Georgia in 1989-1992 and afterwards, as a result of armed conflicts in the former Autonomous Republic of South Ossetia and controversies between Georgian and Ossetia population in other regions of Georgia. 

It is necessary that after relevant amendments are introduced in the Law of Georgia on Restitution and Compensation of the Victims Residing in the Territory of Georgia as a Result of Armed Conflict in the Former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast, the Commission envisaged in the Law started active operation. Besides that, the rules and procedures of obtaining respective documents from the state agencies shall become easier for the individuals, who are beneficiaries of the Law.   

It is important that necessary amendments were introduced to the Organic Law of Georgia on Georgian Citizenship so that the easier procedures were offered to ethnic Ossetian citizens migrated from Georgia in 1990s when they apply for the restoration of Georgian citizenship. 

It is necessary that the President of Georgia acted within the authorities assigned to her under the national legislation and regardless the negative conclusions [of the Counter-Intelligence Department] about the applicant citizen, grant the Georgian citizenship to the applicants based on the assessment of individual circumstances. 

Human Rights Center is implementing the project “Dialogue over the Common Problems of the Georgian and Ossetian Peoples” by financial support of the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM). The project aims to promote the property and citizenship rights of ethnic Ossetian citizens in Georgia and to reveal the gaps in the legislation and practice related to the property rights of Ethnic Ossetians.