DRI: Policy of Georgia’s State Security Service relating to asylum seekers

The Democracy Research Institute has published a report, which evaluates the practice of refusing asylum seekers a refugee, humanitarian or temporary protection status on the ground of state security and identifies a number of shortcomings in this process.

According to the legislation of Georgia, the State Security Service issues a recommendation on the creation of a potential threat to the state security of Georgia by an asylum seeker or an internationally protected person, which may result in deprivation of international protection, expulsion or return of an asylum seeker or an internationally protected person, or detention of an asylum seeker.

The asylum seekers’ applications for international protection are considered by the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, the relevant authority shall examine the applicant's case in detail. However, this procedure loses its meaning when the body examining the application automatically shares the recommendation of the State Security Service, especially when the latter is confidential and neither the asylum seeker nor his or her lawyer has access to it. Since the asylum seeker is not given the opportunity to see the materials of the State Security Service and therefore to submit the relevant evidence and properly defend his/her position, the existing legal guarantees are only of a formal nature. This calls into question the realization of the right to a fair trial. With a few exceptions, court decisions are general in nature, which naturally makes it impossible to exercise proper oversight/control.

According to the analysis of the public information requested by the Democracy Research Institute, asylum seekers from five countries (Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen) were refused for security reasons in 305 cases, while much fewer people (92) from other 69 countries were refused for the same reason. Therefore, the question arises - Is the citizenship/country of origin of the asylum seeker a decisive factor for the State Security Service when preparing a negative decision based on security motive? According to the Law of Georgia on International Protection, asylum seekers shall be able to use the asylum procedure without discrimination. Observation makes it clear that obtaining the status is complicated for asylum seekers from Asian-African countries. This situation is further complicated by the fact that the asylum seeker, as well as his/her representative, does not have the opportunity to see the recommendation issued by the State Security Service and to properly protect the allegedly violated right.

The Democracy Research Institute drew up specific recommendations based on the visions of internationally recognized organizations and the experiences of countries with best practices, which are reflected in the report.