Refugee Council Georgia

The United Nations Association of Georgia (UNAG) in partnership with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been implementing activities aimed at supporting the development of fair refugee protection through skills enhancement and capacity building of local official bodies and civil society representatives in addition to provision of free legal advice and appropriate legal representation of asylum seekers, refugees and other persons of UNHCR concern under the Refugee Council of Georgia (RCG) project. Overall, the project framework targets following areas of work:

- -Court appeals for all asylum requests that were rejected by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia (hereinafter - the Ministry);
- - Provision of qualified legal counseling for asylum seekers residing at the Martkopi reception centre;
- - Support the improvement of the existing Court practice and raise the awareness of asylum seekers and refugees;
- - Training and awareness rising through informational brochures, meetings and roundtables;
- - Improvement of partnership practices between different government and non-government agencies;
- - Address remaining legal gaps in Georgian legislation, together with all relevant government bodies;
- - Active support of the Ministry’s practices and procedures of decision-making on asylum cases.

Training for border authorities: Since 2001 RCG conducts regular trainings for the Border authorities in frames of RCG project. Up to now, RCG has trained more than 1000 border officials, including the high-level officers. The trainings aim to provide border authorities with theoretical and practical knowledge on international protection of refugees, including international and local legislations. Trainings are held at the Training Center of the Patrol Police, Tbilisi and on the Border check-points.

Training for Judges: From 2005 RCG has conducted 5 training for Judges of the administrative boards and chambers of Tbilisi city, appellate and supreme courts of Georgia. As a result, approximately 40 judges became aware on the international and national refugee law and practice.

Institutional capacity building: for more than 12 years RCG cooperates with the Ministry by conducting capacity building and supporting the agency in fulfilling their international obligations with regards the asylum seekers and refugees. As part of supporting the national refugee status determination procedure RCG participates in RSD interviews with asylum seekers conducted by the Ministry; RCG prepares a detailed interview notes (transcript) during the RSD interviews as well as ensures preparation of copy of the files of all individual asylum seekers supports the Ministry in conducting COI research and together with UNHCR provides trainings for the Ministry’s eligible staff on refugee status determination (RSD) procedures. RCG has also established the mechanism of information sharing as concerns the monthly statistical information on the individual asylum applications.

Access to legal assistance: RCG provides legal assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and other persons of UNHCR concern; facilitates protection of refugees and asylum-seekers’ rights at the Administrative bodies. Besides, RCG provides court representation to asylum seekers and refugees by lodging appeals. Starting from 2005 RCG submitted 78 cases in the courts. Currently, 322 refugees and humanitarian status holders and 663 asylum seekers (project beneficiaries) reside in the Country.

Monitoring and Reporting: RCG conducts biweekly monitoring of the reception centre for asylum seekers in Martkopi. As a result of the monitoring we: have actual picture of the living conditions of asylum seekers; keep them and the administration well informed on their rights and obligations; provide asylum seekers at the centre with updated information on their cases and to offer them adequate legal counseling.

Awareness rising:In 2012, after the adoption of the new Law on Refugees and Humanitarian Statuses RCG/UNHCR in cooperation with the Ministry developed the information leaflet for asylum seekers on asylum procedures in Georgia. Leaflet is drafted in 5 languages (English, French, Farsi, Arabic and Russian). Simple language makes the brochure clear and understandable for every person seeking international protection in Georgia and therefore makes their lives easier.