Practice Relating to Rule 131. Treatment of Displaced Persons
Section A. Provision of basic necessities
Georgia’s Law on Displaced Persons (1996) provides a certain number of legal, economic and social guarantees for persons forced to leave their homes and displaced following threats to their lives, health or freedom on account of an aggression by another country, an internal conflict or massive violations of human rights. These guarantees include the right to free medical assistance and free provision of medicines.
Georgia’s Law on Displaced Persons (1996), as amended to 2010, states:
Article 3. Rights … of a person seeking IDP status
3. According to the norms and rules established by the legislation of Georgia, a person seeking IDP status shall have the right to:
a) reside at a temporary place of residence;
b) enjoy free utilities at a place of compact settlement;
c) receive other types of assistance
Article 5. Rights of IDPs …
1. IDPs shall receive … monthly assistance.
1.1. IDPs have the right to receive social and other assistance under the terms and conditions foreseen by the Georgian legislation.
2. The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories of Georgia [shall] support IDPs in the enjoyment of their rights at temporary dwelling spaces, together with the executive authorities and local self-government bodies, who:
a) Assist IDPs to obtain a temporary employment, taking into account their profession and qualification;
b) Within their competencies, deliver the allowances and assistances provided for in the Georgian legislation;
c) The expenses of treatments in medical establishments of internally displaced families/persons who are registered in the database of socially unprotected (vulnerable) families shall be covered by the State within the limits of State standards and tariffs.
f) Decide issues relating to the IDPs retirement maintenance;
g) Assist IDPs in resolving social and living problems;
h) Ensure that IDPs have a temporary residence and food in accordance to the norms existing in Georgia;
i) Exempt IDPs from paying land tax on agricultural land plots allocated to them for temporary use according to the applicable standards;
l) Ensure that IDPs have a temporary residence and [adequate] living conditions within the territory of Georgia;
3. The State ensures [that] IDPs [have] temporary dwelling spaces. The Ministry organizes their accommodation in spaces allocated by the executive authorities and local self-government bodies for the temporary placement of IDPs.
4. … Until the restoration of Georgia’s jurisdiction over … the territories, IDPs shall not be evicted from IDPs’ resettlement facilities unless:
a) There is a written agreement with the IDPs;
b) A … residential area is allocated for the IDPs, [which shall] not worsen their living conditions;
c) Natural disasters … take place;
d) IDPs have willfully occupied dwelling-spaces in violation of the law.
The Law defines an IDP as:
a citizen of Georgia or a stateless person permanently residing in Georgia, who was forced to leave his place of permanent residency and seek asylum within the territory of Georgia due to a threat to his or his relatives’ life, health and freedom, as a result of an aggression by a foreign state, an internal conflict or massive violations of human rights.
Georgia’s Law on Displaced Persons (1996), as amended in 2011, states:
Article 3 – Rights and obligations of [a] person seeking IDP [internally displaced person] status
3. According to the norms and rules established by the legislation of Georgia, a person seeking IDP status shall have the right to:
a) reside at a temporary place of residence;
b) enjoy free utilities at [a] place of compact settlement;
c) receive other types of assistance;
Article 5 – Rights and obligations of the IDP
1. The IDP has the right to:
a) Receive the assistance of the IDP;
b) Receive social and other assistance under the terms and conditions foreseen by the Georgian legislation.
c) Have a temporary accommodation with[in] the territory of Georgia.
Article 5.3 – Protection of … IDPs at the Temporary Residence
1. Dispute[s] concerning … accommodation/housing issues are resolved according to the relevant rules of the Georgian legislation.
2. Until the restoration of the jurisdiction of Georgia [i]n its occupied territories[,] … eviction of … IDPs from the IDP resettlement facilities will not take place unless:
a) There is a written agreement with IDPs to exchange their areas in the IDP resettlement facilities for compensation or other pecuniary or non-pecuniary goods;
b) [A]relevant residential area [is] given to the IDP[, which] will not worsen his/her living conditions;
c) Du[e to] … natural or man-[made] events that are regulated by the Georgian legislation;
d) The IDP has willfully occupied the dwelling-space, in violation of the law.
Article 5.4 –Ensuring the [rights of] IDP[s] in the Temporary Residence
The Ministry supports the IDPs in [the] enjoyment of their rights in …temporary dwelling spaces together with the executive authorities and local self-government bodies, who:
a) Assist the IDP to get … temporary employment, taking into account his/her profession and qualification;
b) Within their competencies deliver the allowances and assistance provided by Georgian legislation;
c) Ensure the IDP’s constitutional right to education and free education at public secondary schools at the expenses of the Government;
d) Decide the issues relating to the IDP[’]s retirement maintenance;
e) Assist the IDP in resolving … social and living problems;
h) Ensure the IDP [has a] temporary residence and [adequate] living conditions within the territory of Georgia;
2. The expenses of … treatment in [a] medical establishment of … internally displaced families/persons who are registered in the database of … socially unprotected (vulnerable) families shall be covered by the public program or insurance according to the established rules.
3. The executive authorities and relevant bodies of the local self-government, including the Ministry, ensure the exercise of their Constitutional rights [and] take measures to create [the] necessary socio-economic conditions for … safe, decent l[i]ving conditions in the places of temporary residence.
4. The Ministry coordinates the activities of the other Ministries and Agencies in the sphere of enjoyment of … rights by the IDPs.
The Law defines an internally displaced person from the occupied territory as:
Internally displaced person from the occupied territory – IDP is a citizen of Georgia or stateless person permanently residing in Georgia, who was forced to leave his place of permanent residency and seek asylum within the territory of Georgia due to the threat to his life, health and freedom or life, health and freedom of his family members, as a result of aggression of a foreign state, internal conflict o[r] mass violation of human rights or [a]s a result of events determined by … paragraph 11 of article 2 of this Law.
Georgia’s Law on Internally Displaced Persons (2014) states:
Article 3. The Purpose of the Law
The purpose of this Law is to create the legal mechanisms that
a) ensure protection of IDP [internally displaced person] rights during the whole period of displacement;
b) facilitate integration of IDPs at their places of registration;
c) promote provision of solutions to IDP problems.
Article 5. Protection of the Population from Displacement
2. The Government shall:
b) ensure realization of [the] rights of victims of displacement to life, dignity, safety and liberty even … when displacement is caused by [inevitable necessity];
Article 6. Definition of an IDP
1. A citizen of Georgia or a stateless person with a status residing in Georgia shall be considered as an IDP, if he/she was forced to leave his/her permanent place of residence because of threat to his/her or his/her family member[s’] life, health or freedom caused by the occupation of the territory by a foreign state, aggression, armed conflict, mass violence and/or massive human rights violations and/or he/she cannot return to his/her permanent place of residence due to the above mentioned reasons.
Article 12. Rights and Obligations of IDPs
1. [An] IDP has the right to:
a) receive IDP allowance … ;
b) receive social and other types of assistance in accordance with the rules and conditions established by the Georgian legislation;
c) receive adequate housing in Georgia until return to the place of permanent residence, except for those cases where durable housing has already been provided to him/her.
Article 13. The Right to Respect the Family Unity and the Right to Adequate Housing
2. The Ministry together with other relevant state agencies shall provide adequate housing to those IDPs who have been left homeless during displacement. When providing adequate housing, the Ministry shall register IDP[s at] the place of accommodation.
3. The Ministry together with state and local self-government bodies shall ensure the realization of IDP rights envisaged by this law and shall take measures to create socio-economic conditions for IDPs’ safe and dignified life.
4. If an IDP family has been provided with durable housing, the Government shall not bear responsibility to provide them or their descend[ants] with housing based on their IDP status.
Article 14. Protection of IDP Rights related to Living Space
1. Disputes on living space/housing issues shall be settled pursuant to Georgian legislation.
2. Before elimination of circumstances as referred to in paragraph 1, Article 6 of this Law or before providing durable housing to IDPs, eviction of IDPs from lawfully possessed living space shall not take place unless:
a) a written agreement is signed with an IDP on provision of adequate monetary or other type of assistance instead of the living space they occupy;
b) an IDP is provided with adequate housing not deteriorating his/her living conditions;
c) a natural disaster or other event occurs, envisaging certain compensation being regulated by a common rule.
6. In cases envisaged by paragraph 2 of this Article while resettling IDPs to another part of the country in order to safeguard IDPs’ dignity, freedom and safety, the Ministry shall ensure that:
a) an IDP/an IDP family is fully informed on reasons and procedures of resettlement and on relevant alternatives in order to ensure IDPs’ free and voluntary decision;
b) each IDP is provided with adequate housing;
c) IDPs shall be accommodated [in] places where safety, health and sanitary conditions are satisfactory[,] and the right to respect of the family unity of an IDP shall be protected.
7. Paragraphs 2 and 6 of this Article shall not cover those IDPs who were not accommodated by the government, who managed to find housing themselves (they are registered and/or live in rented, borrowed or their own houses, live together with [a] host family, etc.) and the Ministry did not pay for their administrative, accommodation and utility (including, electricity) costs annually from the state budget.
Article 16. Social Protection of an IDP
1. The Ministry [of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia], within its mandate, together with other state bodies shall support an IDP to exercise his/her rights. In particular, they shall
a) help IDPs to find jobs according to their professions and qualifications;
b) issue allowances and other types of assistance within their mandate pursuant to Georgian legislation;
c) ensure enjoyment of the constitutional right to education and state-funded general education as established by the legislation of Georgia;
d) make decision[s] on pension-related issues of IDPs;
e) help IDPs to resolve social and everyday issues;
h) provide IDPs with first aid during displacement on the territory of Georgia[;]
2. Medical expenses of an IDP/IDP families registered in the database of socially vulnerable families are covered by state-funded healthcare programs or insurance according to relevant rules.
Georgia’s Law on International Protection (2016), taking into account amendments up to 2017, states:
Article 39 – Review of an application for international protection of a victim of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or violence
1. An asylum seeker who states that he/she has been a victim of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or violence, or who shows signs thereof, shall have access to relevant medical and psychological assistance prior to the review of an application for international protection.
Article 56 – Rights of an asylum seeker
An asylum seeker shall have the following rights:
f) to stay in a reception centre over the period of the review of an application for international protection, except where he/she stays in a penitentiary facility, a temporary detention facility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, or the temporary accommodation centre of the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, or the temporary detention facility of the Ministry of the State Security Service of Georgia;
h) to be provided, in the case of a request for international protection, with social, economic and day-to-day living conditions in accordance with the legislation of Georgia;
j) to be entitled to state healthcare programmes in the same manner as the citizens of Georgia, except for exceptional cases provided for by the legislation of Georgia;
m) to enjoy the right to be employed as provided for by the legislation of Georgia, in particular to be employed independently or with the help of another employer;
Article 58 – Rights of persons with refugee or humanitarian status
1. Persons with refugee or humanitarian status shall have the right to:
e) stay in a reception centre for a month after being granted refugee or humanitarian status, and in special cases, in other temporary places of accommodation provided by the Ministry;
g) receive a monthly allowance as defined by the legislation of Georgia;
j) enjoy the right to acquire pre-school and general education in the same manner as citizens of Georgia, and enjoy the right to obtain professional and higher education in accordance with the procedures provided for by the legislation of Georgia, and in addition enjoy the procedures for recognising documents certifying education and qualifications received in another country in accordance with the procedures provided for by the legislation of Georgia;
k) enjoy state healthcare and social programmes in the same manner as citizens of Georgia, except for special cases provided for by the legislation of Georgia;
l) enjoy the right to be employed in the same manner as citizens of Georgia, in particular the right to be employed independently or with the assistance of another employer;
Article 61 – Rights of persons under temporary protection
Persons under temporary protection shall have the right to:
c) receive medical assistance in accordance with the procedures and in the cases provided for by the legislation of Georgia;
d) be entitled to acquire pre-school and general education, and to the procedures for recognising documents certifying education and qualifications received in another country in accordance with the procedures provided for by the legislation of Georgia;
g) be provided with food and shelter or appropriate monetary assistance in accordance with the procedure provided for by an order of the Minister.
Article 75 – Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia
The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia shall:
a) ensure the implementation of an educational programme for training in the Georgian language for the purposes of facilitating an asylum seeker and an internationally protected person to obtain general education. The procedures for the enrolment of asylum seekers or internationally protected persons on an educational programme for training in the Georgian language, the content, the terms of implementation and the rules for financing the programme shall be defined by an order of the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia[.]
The Law also states:
Article 3 – Definition of terms
For the purposes of this Law, the terms used herein have the following meanings:
e) an asylum seeker – an alien or a stateless person, who has applied for international protection to a state agency and in respect of whom the Ministry has not made a decision, or a court decision has not yet entered into legal force;
Article 14 – Forms of international protection
In accordance with this Law, the forms of international protection in Georgia are the following:
a) refugee status;
b) humanitarian status;
c) the status of a person under temporary protection.
Article 15 – Grounds for granting refugee status
1. Refugee status shall be granted to an alien or a stateless person, who is outside the country of origin, and has a well-grounded fear that he/she may become a victim of persecution on the grounds of his/her race, religion, nationality, affiliation to a certain social group or political views, and who does not wish to, or cannot, return to his/her country of origin or enjoy the right to be protected from such country due to such fear.
Article 19 – Grounds for granting humanitarian status
1. Humanitarian status shall be granted to an alien or a stateless person who does not comply with the conditions for granting refugee status as provided for by Article 15 of this Law where there is a real risk that upon returning to the country of origin he/she will face a serious threat of damage as provided for by Article 32(3) of this Law.
Article 21 – Grounds and procedures for granting the status of a person under temporary protection
1. The Ministry shall regulate the mass entry of people and make a decision on granting the status of a person under temporary protection to people entering in mass, who require international protection and cannot return to the country of their origin due to violence, aggression, international or internal armed conflict, or due to mass violation of human rights.
Article 32 – Persecution and serious damage
1. For the purposes of Article 15 of this Law, an action shall be deemed persecution, if:
a) it is so serious by its nature or has such repeated character that fundamental human rights continue to be violated;
b) it is one of a unity of various actions, which are so severe that fundamental human rights continue to be violated.
2. The persecution provided for by paragraph 1 of this article may be expressed in the following forms:
e) criminal persecution or punishment during a conflict due to the refusal to perform actions provided for by Article 18 of this Law [among others, a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity];
3. Serious damage shall be:
c) a serious individual threat to the life of a person due to indiscriminate violence, international or internal armed conflict or mass violation of human rights.
Article 33 – Entity(ies) carrying out persecution and inflicting serious damage
Entity(ies) carrying out persecution and inflicting serious damage may be:
a) the State;
b) a group or an organisation, which controls the entire territory of the State or a significant part of the territory;
c) non-governmental entities, if the entities provided for by sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of this paragraph, including international organisations, cannot or do not desire to protect a person from persecution or serious damage as provided for by Article 32 of this Law.
Georgia’s Order on the Asylum Procedure (2017) states:
1. Victims of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment, or mental or physical abuse should have access to counselling related to the asylum procedure and adequate medical and psychological assistance during the asylum procedures.
2. Applications for international protection [which, under the 2016 Law of Georgia on International Protection is given to refugees who,
, are fleeing criminal prosecution or punishment for refusing to commit a war crime; to those granted humanitarian status where there is a serious individual threat to their life due to, inter alia
, conflict; and to those who, granted temporary protection when entering en masse, require it due to, inter alia
, armed conflict in their country of origin,] submitted by victims of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment, or mental or physical abuse shall be given priority while reviewing applications for international protection.
In 2014, in its fourth periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Georgia stated:
Internally displaced children
181. The number of internally displaced children in the country amounts to 72,413. They benefit from the general healthcare service, which is provided free of charge by the Government of Georgia for all the children with IDP [internally displaced person] status.
182. … [I]n order to make all the services available for internally displaced children, including healthcare, education, etc., a change in the housing policy was made for the new government to allocate houses in Tbilisi to IDPs, which was not allowed before. The rationale is that IDPs have been living in the capital city for years and have reached a certain level of integration there.
183. … [T]he Law of Georgia on Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories of Georgia was adopted in 1996 and revised three times since then. In 2013, an analysis of the Law showed a need for considerable improvement. A Draft Law aims to put in place legal mechanisms to ensure emergency assistance in case of forced displacement and the protection of IDPs[’] rights during the whole period of displacement.
184. One of the important changes is the widening of the definition of an internally displaced person as: “A citizen of Georgia or a person with a status of person without citizenship in Georgia can be qualified as an IDP who was forced to leave his/her place of permanent residence due to a danger [to] his/her … health or life or [to] that of his/her family members as a result [of] occupation of territory by a foreign state, aggression, armed conflict, mass violence and/or mass violation of human rights and/or impossibility of his/her return to the place of permanent residence due to the above-mentioned reasons.” With such a formulation, the Law will not only protect the rights of those persons who lived on currently occupied territories, but also those who suffered as a result of the occupation.
185. One of the most valuable changes in the new draft Law is the creation of a uniformed, non-discriminatory approach to all IDPs. In particular, such notions as “IDP Collective Center”[,] “IDPs living in the private sector” will be annulled, ensuring the equal distribution of housing and benefits, such as governmental allowance and [the] possibility to receive payment for communal facilities. It is planned that all IDPs will receive [an] equal governmental allowance in amount of 45 GEL (20 EUR), instead of current[ly] 22-28 GEL, which vary dependent on type of accommodation. At the same time, all IDPs will pay their own communal expenses that are [an] additional step towards integration.
186. The draft law lists the reasons for suspension, termination and reinstatement of IDP allowance. It also specifies IDPs[’] protection measures with regards to accommodation and regulations on their eviction from temporary accommodation. Specifically, measures to be carried out by [the] central and local government for the eviction of IDPs from spaces transferred for legal ownership to third persons, while ensuring their dignity, security and freedom.
187. … [I]n order to make the housing allocation process transparent and based on needs, the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees has issued on 9 August 2013 the Order N320 … , which set up the procedures of allocation of houses to IDPs, using criteria and living standards. The “Rules” set special privileges for persons with disabilities. Before that, no mandatory act regulated the allocation of accommodation.
188. … The guiding principles, criteria and procedures of Durable Housing Solution (DHS) to IDPs were developed by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia in close cooperation with civil society organizations. The criteria are based on the Law of Georgia, UN guiding principles on forced displacement, the State Strategy on IDPs approved by the Government of Georgia in 2007 and the Action Plan for implementation of the State Strategy on IDPs 2012–2014 adopted by the Government of Georgia on 13 June 2012. The criteria are based on the principles of voluntary and informed decision, family unity, special protection of minors left without families or a guardian/caregiver, adequate accommodation, access to documentation and public services, publicity and transparency.