In 85 countries around the world, hundreds of thousands of people are reported to have been forcibly disappeared as a result of conflicts and repression. The problem of enforced disappearances in Georgia is mainly related to armed conflicts. Today, more than 2,300 people are considered to be missing in the country.
To combat the global problem of enforced disappearances, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2006. In some cases, enforced disappearance can be considered a crime against humanity. Georgia has not yet ratified the Convention.
Back in 2013, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the authorities with a recommendation to ratify the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in order to bring Georgian legislation in line with international standards. The recommendation was endorsed by the Parliament of Georgia in the following years. Nevertheless, the ratification process has not yet begun. The Democracy Research Institute believes that the ratification of the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance will be an important step in the fight against this crime in Georgia.
Enforced disappearances result in the violation of human rights to life, liberty, protection from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, expression, personal safety, etc. According to the Convention, there is no circumstance that would justify the disappearance; The forced disappearance of a person is inadmissible, both in war or in other unstable situations.
The Convention defines the crime of enforced disappearance and obliges States Parties to take the necessary measures to ensure that enforced disappearance constitutes an offence under their criminal laws at the national level. The Convention stipulates the obligation of the State to conduct a thorough and objective investigation upon receipt of the relevant information. The investigation should be effective and thorough. The Convention also establishes the right of the victim's family to know the truth about the circumstances of an enforced disappearance and the fate of the disappeared person, as well as the right to prompt, fair and adequate compensation.
The Democracy Research Institute welcomes the establishment of an inter-agency commission to find and transfer the bodies of persons missing as a result of armed conflicts in October 2019. Through the efforts of the agencies involved in this process and the coordination mechanisms under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the remains of 206 individuals have been identified and handed over to their families. It is important to continue cooperation in searching for missing persons, a successful example of which is the excavation of gravesites in cooperation with Tbilisi and Sokhumi in Abkhazia in 2013-2015.
The Democracy Research Institute offers sincere sympathy to the families and relatives of the missing persons and calls on the Georgian authorities to take effective steps to investigate the disappearances, find the missing persons and ratify the UN Convention.