Government To Unveil New Procedures on IDP Evictions
Update September 30th 2010: The operating procedures have been released; you can read them here.Tomorrow, the government will present a new set of procedures for evicting and resettling IDPs. The Standard Operating Procedures, to be presented at an open meeting of civil society organizations at 14:00 in the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation (MRA), were developed in response to the August evictions of untold thousands of IDPs from temporary shelters in Tbilisi. The government temporarily suspended further evictions after an outcry from local and international actors. While the Procedures are a positive step, it remains to be seen whether the spirit of the document will be adhered to in practice.
Well intentioned principles, but will they be followed?
The Procedures are not legally binding. They were approved by the MRA’s Steering Committee on IDP Issues (of which TI Georgia is a member) on September 17, but there is a real risk that many key points of this new document, meant to protect the rights of IDPs, will go the same way as other documents developed and approved by the Steering Committee with the same goal in mind. Previous and legally binding principles have not been fully adhered to, including “fair and transparent criteria” and “voluntary/informed decision making and free choice of IDPs” (2009 IDP Action Plan). For example, there are no transparent criteria by which the government selects families to receive the USD 10,000 cash compensation; and some of the recently evicted IDPs were bussed directly to an isolated apartment block in Potskhoetseri in western Georgia without offers of alternative housing solutions. The Procedures are not retroactive, so those moved to Potskhoetseri will not benefit from them. Many of the lofty principles contained in strategy documents for IDP assistance have been driven by the international community, but the government does not always have the capacity or will to implement them. Such was the case with the surprising August evictions. Both donors and the government must do more to uphold the fundamental principles of the initiatives that they fund and implement.