• The October 2012 parliamentary elections marked Georgia’s first peaceful transition of power since independence. The opposition coalition, led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, defeated President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party and gained a majority in parliament. The new government inherited troubling human rights problems, including little judicial independence and misuse of administrative (misdemeanor) charges to detain activists for minor infractions without having to follow full due process. Graphic video material, released in September 2012, depicts torture and ill-treatment of inmates, highlighting a long-standing problem of prisoner abuse. Rectifying past abuses and holding former government officials accountable without turning the process into political retribution is a serious challenge.   

  • Georgia’s ruling coalition swept to an overwhelming victory in municipal elections in 2014 amid some concerns of pre-election pressure on opposition candidates and violence. Investigations into past abuses continued to raise some questions regarding selective justice and politically motivated prosecutions. Lack of accountability for abuses committed by law enforcement remained a problem. Other areas of concern include minority and women rights.



  • Nov 26, 2014
    Thanks to the overhaul of a Soviet-era law, Georgia’s police can no longer detain people for up to 90 days for minor offenses like traffic violations or disturbing public order at a protest – laws that authorities have used in the past to harass activists. Now, anyone taken into police custody for such a misdemeanor has the right to know the reasons for detention, choose a lawyer, alert family, and be held for no more than 15 days – all new protections. These changes largely reflect recommendations Human Rights Watch made in a 2012 report on Georgia’s flawed system of administrative – or misdemeanor – detention.
  • Nov 28, 2013
    Vilnius' beautiful old town is alive with flags and symbols of the European Union ahead of the "Eastern Partnership" summit starting on Thursday (28 November), but the real drama has been played out far from the Lithuanian capital.
  • Nov 15, 2013
    The European Union should ensure that human rights are at the core of its relationships with the countries involved in the Eastern Partnership. On November 28 and 29, 2013, the EU will convene a summit of its eastern neighbors in Vilnius, at which it is expected to lay the foundation for deeper political and economic ties with several partnership countries.
  • Jan 31, 2013
    Georgia’s new government needs to rectify the troubling human rights problems it inherited, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2013. In addressing past abuses, the government should avoid politically motivated prosecutions, ensure public scrutiny of its actions, and make the worst abuses a top priority.
  • Sep 26, 2012
    Georgia’s use of administrative detention to lock up protesters and political activists violates the country’s international commitments to safeguard against arbitrary detention.
  • Sep 19, 2012
    Video footage broadcast on Georgian television on September 18, 2012, depicts sexual and other abuse of inmates in a notorious prison in Georgia, which should be subject to criminal investigation.
  • Jan 10, 2012
    Twenty years ago, in July 1991, I was poised to start a job researching human rights violations in the Soviet Union. A month later, the failed coup to unseat Communist Party leader Mikhail Gorbachev precipitated rapid political changes that would lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 25. Watching these events, my family told me I would no longer have a job. Like many others, they assumed that the end of communism would usher in a new era of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in the Soviet Union’s successor states. I started my new job as planned and it only took five minutes to see that those assumptions were wrong.
  • Jan 4, 2012
    Georgia’s system for handling administrative offenses, or misdemeanors, violates the defendant’s due process rights.
  • Nov 20, 2011
    They like playing dominoes in Abkhazia. As dusk falls, young men unpack their pieces on the promenade by the Black Sea in Sukhumi, the picturesque capital of this breakaway territory bidding for independence from Georgia.
  • Nov 18, 2011
    We write in advance of the upcoming Cooperation Councils with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia to urge you to ensure these meetings are used to raise concrete concerns in human rights, making clear that addressing them is of core importance to the EU and an essential component of the EU’s engagement with each country.