Freedom House Asks Clinton Focus On Human Rights On Caucasus


The Messenger
June 4 2012

Freedom House, the US-based rights organization, has urged US Secretary
of State Hilary Clinton “to make human rights and democracy shortfalls
in the Caucasus region the cornerstone topic in private meetings and
in public statements” during her June 4-6 visit to Armenia, Georgia
and Azerbaijan.

“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 reference to Georgia, Freedom House’s address to Clinton reads,
“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, according to the Freedom House report, Freedom
in the World 2012, remain unchanged over last year, with the country
still deemed “partly free”. However, in a recent Freedom House survey
on global press freedom, Georgia has improved for third consecutive
year, while still remaining in the category of “partly free”.

In addition to the Freedom House appeal, Georgian election watchdogs,
legal advocacy, and media organizations have also addressed Secretary
Clinton ahead of her visit to Georgia, calling on her to raise the
need for further legislative amendments to improve the election
environment ahead of the forthcoming October parliamentary elections.

Analyst Nika Chitadze hailed the Freedom House recommendations to
Clinton, saying it will contribute to the improvement of the campaign
environment. He noted that Clinton will meet with both government
and opposition representatives, and will make recommendations for
all sides.

“International non-governmental organizations cannot miss such an
opportunity to ask high level officials to raise such sensitive
issues as human rights. Freedom House’s address to Clinton ahead
of her visit was very apt, as human rights continue to be violated
in Georgia. Some pressure from the US can be very effective in the
creation of free and fair pre-election environment,” he said.

Secretary Clinton will hold talks with Georgian leadership, civil
society and opposition representatives in the Black Sea resort town
of Batumi. She will arrive in Georgia from Armenia on June 5, and
will then travel to Azerbaijan on June 6.

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