Fair Labor Platform calls for the suspension of evictions and release of detained activists

29 Jan, 2024

The Georgia Fair Labor Platform condemns the evictions in Tbilisi last week, stands in solidarity with the families affected, and calls for a state moratorium on evictions until fundamental changes are made to relevant laws and policies.

We believe that Georgia’s legislation and practice governing evictions ignores international human rights standards and grossly violates the rights and dignity of people facing eviction, as demonstrated by the violent eviction of the Khatiashvili family on January 23.

International human rights standards require state agencies to take all measures possible before resorting to an eviction. If eviction is unavoidable, the process should be conducted in a manner that respects human dignity and rights; this means that evictions in winter should be prohibited, and the use of force should be minimized. International standards also emphasize that evictions should not leave people homeless, and relevant state agencies should provide evicted persons with decent alternative housing.

In contrast to the above, the current situation in Georgia is deplorable. The state does not have a policy to prevent homelessness after evictions. Nor does the judicial system, when evaluating evictions, consider the risk of homelessness or the socio-economic vulnerability of families at risk of eviction.

A bigger issue is that Georgia lacks a unified national housing policy, along with services to help families at risk of eviction. There is only a patchwork of services at the municipal level, which are largely inadequate, overburdened and geared towards temporary solutions.

The situation is also aggravated by the fact that an increasingly large number of people are taking loans to cover their basic expenses. Most of these loans are secured by real estate, meaning they put people’s homes at risk in the event of non-payment.

The Fair Labor Platform believes that this trend is directly linked to low prevailing wages and poor enforcement of labor rights in Georgia. Wages should be sufficient to provide a decent living; working people should not need loans to cover their basic expenses.

Although legislative changes regarding mortgage loans have been made in recent years, they have failed to prevent predatory lending. Moreover, in recent years, the practice of moneylending has largely gone underground, leaving debtors even more vulnerable.

Lastly, we would like to especially condemn the aggressive and violent nature of the eviction carried out on Kekelidze Street, where 20 activists were arrested and several protesters and journalists were injured. The arrest of two activists – Giorgi Khasaya and Akaki Chikobava – is particularly noteworthy, as they face three to six years of imprisonment under the Criminal Code. In evaluating their case, we believe that the state must take into account the circumstances of their arrest, the situation on the ground and the motivation for their actions, namely to oppose an inhumane and cruel eviction.

Based on the above, the Decent Work Platform calls on the government to:

  • Declare a moratorium on evictions and, during this period, work with all interested actors to bring legislation and practice into compliance with international human rights standards;
  • Release the arrested activists and drop all criminal prosecutions against them.

This statement is endorsed by the following Fair Labor Platform members:
Tbilisi Metropolitan Independent Trade Union – “Ertoba 2013”
Social Justice Center
Solidarity Network
Trade Union of Science, Education and Culture

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