The US State Department has released its annual Human Rights Report 2022 for Georgia.
The report covered the rights of national minorities and the violated rights of women in the communities of national minorities. The report noted that no laws restrict the participation of women and minorities in the political process, and they did. The kidnapping of women for marriage took place in remote areas and in ethnic minority communities but was rare. The UN Population Fund reported that women from minority communities, women from rural areas, and poor women faced barriers to accessing information related to their reproductive health. Financial barriers limited access to individual contraceptive options for many women. The media reported numerous incidents of hate speech against minority groups during the year.
In addition to political, civic, economic, and cultural barriers, poor knowledge of the Georgian language remained a major barrier to the integration of the country’s ethnic minorities. Some minorities argued that the law requiring «adequate proficiency in the official language» to work as civil servants excluded them from participating in government. The involvement of ethnic minorities in national decision-making remains a problem due to the small number of ethnic minorities in the central government.
The government continued the 1+4 program for ethnic minorities to study the Georgian language for one year before entering university. Under the quota system, the government allocated 12 percent of all places for bachelor’s degrees or higher to ethnic minority students. Of these reserved seats, the ethnic Armenian and Azeri communities each received 40 percent (5 percent of the total), while the Ossetian and Abkhaz communities each received 10 percent (1 percent of the total).
The Public Defender’s 2021 Annual Report states: «Government officials consider early marriage a tradition of an ethnic minority, and there is no point in fighting it.» It was difficult for the authorities to respond to forced marriages in a timely and effective manner. During the year, 144 cases of early marriages were reported in 2021.