COPENHAGEN, 22 August 2019 – Following reports about the recent resumption of the ‘borderization’ process at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) of South Ossetia, the leaders of the OSCE PA’s human rights committee expressed concerns over the ongoing developments.
In a joint statement, Chair Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), Vice-Chair Michael Georg Link (Germany) and Rapporteur Susana Amador (Portugal) stated: “The resumption of ‘borderization’ process not only entrenches the conflict but impacts the life of the local population. Building fences without notice through villages, depriving people of the access to their farmland, ancestral homes and effectively their livelihoods, is simply unacceptable. Ensuring the freedom of movement of people, who must deal with the consequences of the conflict on a daily basis, is of vital importance to maintain people-to-people contacts and minimize the impact of the conflict onto their lives. I therefore condemn the illegal erection of fences and barriers on Georgia’s internal administrative boundaries and call upon the respective authorities to remove the fence.”
Since the end of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, up to 40 kilometers of barbed wire fence have been constructed along the ABL of South Ossetia, creating a physical barrier within several villages and hindering residents freedom of movement. Georgians who cross the ABL are regularly detained for doing so. As of mid-August, the construction of the fence continues, despite negotiations to halt the construction.
In reference to the recent arrests and release of eight Georgian citizens, who were detained for illegally crossing the ABL, Hadjiyianni stated: “I commend the negotiation efforts of the sides involved, which led to the release of the detainees. However, I call upon authorities to end this practice of harassing local citizens for crossing the ABL.”
The respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as the inviolability of its internationally recognized borders as provided by international law, and especially the Final Act of the Helsinki, were reconfirmed in the OSCE PA Luxembourg Declaration of 2019.
The Luxembourg Declaration condemned “the deterioration of security, human rights and the humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of Georgia due to the Russian Federation’s illegal actions, including intensified military build-up and military exercises, installation of razor wire fences and artificial barriers along the occupation line, [and] ethnic discrimination against Georgians residing in Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia.”