Freedom House Urges Clinton to Raise HR During Caucasus Visit

Civil Georgia, Georgia
June 2 2012

Freedom House Urges Clinton to Raise Human Rights During Caucasus Visit
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 2 Jun.’12 / 11:50

U.S.-based rights group Freedom House urged Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton `to make human rights and democracy shortfalls in the Caucasus
region the cornerstone topic in private meetings and in public
statements’ during her visit to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan on
June 4-6.

`Encouraging and supporting democratically accountable systems in the
Caucasus region is essential,’ David J. Kramer, Freedom House
president, said. `While we realize there are a range of policy
interests to be discussed during the trip, Freedom House calls for a
particular emphasis on the ongoing concerns about human rights and
democracy throughout the region, especially in Azerbaijan and
Armenia.’

In case of Azerbaijan, Freedom House urged the Secretary of State to
address issues of intimidation of political activists and their
imprisonment in `deeply flawed trials’, use of force to break up
antigovernment rallies, as well as freedom of press. On Armenia,
Freedom House stressed that its reforms were hampered by `the deep
relationship between politics and business, which effectively prevents
the advancement of greater accountability and transparency.’

On Georgia, Freedom House said: `Georgia affords some but not all of
the institutional safeguards and holds promise for more meaningful
reform, if the right steps are taken. The upcoming parliamentary and
presidential elections in Georgia present a test for civil society in
Georgia to develop more effective and mature political platforms.’

Georgia’s indicators in an annual report by Freedom House, Freedom in
the World 2012, remained unchanged and the country is still deemed
`partly free’. In recent Freedom House’s survey on global press
freedom, Georgia’s ranking has improved for third consecutive year,
but the country still remains in the category of `partly free.’

A group of Georgian election watchdog, legal advocacy and media
organizations have also appealed to Secretary Clinton ahead of her
visit to Georgia on June 5, calling on her to raise the need for
further legislative amendments to improve electoral environment in the
country ahead of the October parliamentary elections.

Secretary Clinton will hold talks with Georgian leadership, civil
society and opposition representatives in Black Sea resort town of
Batumi. She will arrive in Georgia from Armenia and will then travel
to Azerbaijan on June 6.

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24840

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