Artificial Barriers in Human Rights Protection: Insights from Sukhum Round Table

A pivotal human rights discourse, hosted by the Centre for Humanitarian Programs.

A pivotal human rights discourse, hosted by the Centre for Humanitarian Programs.

SUKHUM / AQW'A ― In Sukhum, a pivotal round table event titled "Human Rights Violations as a Consequence of Systemic Issues in Law Enforcement Practices" took place. Organised by the Centre for Humanitarian Programs' staff, experts in this area, the event marked a significant discourse in the realm of human rights. The organisation, known for its commitment to this cause, launched its first human rights reception back in the early 2000s and has since expanded to a network of legal receptions across Abkhazia.

These receptions play a crucial role, bridging the gap between citizens and the judicial system. In the current year alone, they have handled 995 cases. A shift has been noted from the past; issues now often require more than just informational support, demanding ongoing engagement. Collaborations with government officials have grown more complex, with Konstantin Piliya, head of the Gal District Administration, being the only official attending.

Problems are widespread, yet, as highlighted by Diana Kerselyan, coordinator of the public receptions at the Centre, the western regions face unique challenges. Here, difficulties stem from a lack of awareness about the importance of human rights protection. Notably, the Gal District leads in terms of inquiries, mostly regarding residency permit extensions. Diana Kerselyan believes that the law does not hinder the extension of residency permits and that these issues are artificially created.

Former Ombudsman Asida Shakryl discussed the intentional barriers in documenting Gal residents. A critical requirement for residency permit renewal is a minimum ten-year registration, with the registration stamp in the previous five-year document serving as the base date. This process is complicated by the confiscation of older documents proving earlier residency. The lawyers' testimonies, including that of Konstantin Piliya, paint a bleak picture of the struggle against a corrupt system.

Across Abkhazia, poverty remains a prevalent issue. Lawyers strive to help residents assert their social rights, addressing the common lack of knowledge about entitlements to benefits and assistance. The memory of pandemic-era support drives many to seek food aid.

Said Gezerdaa, a lawyer, spoke about the "Free Legal Assistance" bill, which promises to streamline legal reception operations and crucially aid residents in addressing their concerns. The draft bill is prepared for submission to interested lawmakers.

Echoing last year's round table, this event offered crucial insights for those dedicated to systemic reform and the establishment of a legal state where all residents' rights are upheld. However, it appears the appetite for such change is diminishing in our country, a trend that casts a shadow of disappointment.




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