Report of Human Rights NGOs about the Violations, Committed during the August War of 2008

Project title: "Report of Human Rights NGOs about the Violations, Committed during the August War of 2008"
Year: 2009 - 2010
Budget in USD: 62 800
Funding sources: OSGF Human Rights and Good Governance Program (Human Rights Direction)
Project Coordinator: Tamar Kaldani

The project has been implemented by OSGF Human Rights and Good Governance Program in cooperation with the network program - Open Society Justice Initiative. The following organizations were involved in project implementation:
1. Union "Article 42 of the Constitution";
2. Georgian Young Lawyers' Association;
3. Human Rights Center;
4. Constitutional Rights Protection Center;
5. Union "Century 21".

Project goal is to document violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the August war in 2008 and collect evidence-based video-photo materials.

Project objectives:

A) to support coordination and cooperation between HR organizations;
B) to protect people affected by the war and advocate for their rights both on local and international level;
C) to employ the Report in the further activities of the HR organizations, including case prosecution in the European Court and investigation on the international level.

Project outline, activities and outcomes:

Following the August war in 2008, OSGF set a strategic goal to support HR NGOs in documentation of violations of humanitarian law and human rights, committed during the warfare and strategic litigation for the victimized by war citizens.

1) Open Society Justice Initiative experts conducted two hands-on trainings to the representatives of Georgian HR NGOs aiming at the improvement of skills of NGOs in documentation and proper interviewing for obtaining information from the victims. During the training experts also presented the ways of applying international mechanisms of protection of victims (European Court of Human Rights, International Criminal Court). And a joint meeting of Georgian and Russian HR NGOs took place in Turkey, where participants were given an opportunity to exchange information and agreed upon the specific points of cooperation.

2) In addition, OSGF financially supported 3 organizations and in particular: Georgian Young Lawyers' Association, Union "Article 42 of the Constitution" and Union "Century 21" to compile and lodge complaints to the European Court of Human Rights. With the OSGF financial support, 208 complaints were compiled to the ECHR (both individual and group) concerning rights of 935 persons.

3) Besides protection of interests of victims in the Strasbourg Court, crimes committed during the warfare were documented and finally there was elaborated and published a Report "In August Ruins" based on more than 1 000 questionnaires, where IDPs described crimes against civilians in various villages of the region.

4) Within the framework of the in-house project, all questionnaires were adjusted, materials were statistically and analytically processed, there was formed a special database identified mostly victimized groups and villages, category of offenders, their national and institutional affiliation, kind of the inflicted damage to the civilians, systematic crimes and tendencies in this respect, and etc. Materials, obtained by NGOs were processed according to an ad hoc methodology using technology of fact aggregation and contradiction.

5) The in-house project proved to be efficient also due to the fact that the Report "In August Ruins" published within its scope is a result of the first attempt, taken by Georgian HR NGOs as to document violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed during the war in a highly coordinated manner. The publication generally is based on the interviews and personal stories of IDPs. All other materials that could be obtained including open sources, were used namely for the rechecking of these stories. In a working process, there were obtained utterly valuable photo and video materials depicting concrete evidences of committing crimes and inflicting damage.
The Report gained even more in importance after the International Criminal Court expressed its interest to investigate crimes committed during the August war in 2008 in Georgia. When the International Criminal Court was informed of the Report, elaborated with the financial support of the Foundation in partnership with HR NGOs, Department of Investigations of the Court voiced their readiness to meet author NGOs, whereupon an in-house project working group visited the Hague in early 2009.
Afterwards, the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia hosted a public presentation of the Report. And later on, the working group presented it at the OSI Washington office.




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