Decision of Batumi Municipality Property Rights Commission Does Not Ensure Return of Land to Citizens - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

Decision of Batumi Municipality Property Rights Commission Does Not Ensure Return of Land to Citizens

18 July, 2016

 

Transparency International – Georgia is actively engaged in the processes concerning land plots in Gonio and is closely following the developments in this matter. 

On 27 June 2016, after a four-year wait, the Commission for Recognition of Property Rights on Illegally Occupied Land in Batumi City Municipality made a final decision concerning the land plots of 271 citizens in Gonio.

For several days before the adoption of the ruling, the residents of Gonio held a protest rally first outside the Batumi City Council and then outside the office of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajaria. On 23 June, Transparency International – Georgia issued a statement regarding the illegal actions by the police during the protest.

On 29 June 2016, one of the 271 citizens applied to the Public Registry to have his property title registered anew. However, the National Agency of Public Registry decided to suspend the registration process. Since no individual decisions were adopted, the Registry could not identify the specific party whose property title had been restored.

Although, according to the City Council official, the issue has been settled in favor of the residents, we strongly believe that the decision has significant shortcomings.  Namely:

  • The commission did not discuss individually the legality of recognizing the property rights over the land plots outside the protected area of the cultural heritage monument - the Gonio Fortress. However, according to the decision adopted on 7 November 2014, the administrative proceedings were launched with the very purpose of examining the legality of annulling the ownership titles of 271 citizens on the former territory of the Gonio agricultural enterprise.
  • The commission misled the citizens into thinking that it would check the legality of annulling their ownership titles despite the lack of a court decision. Although the law law did not explicitly requite the commission to do so, since  the administrative proceeding was instituted with the purpose of examining the applications of these 271 citizens, the commission should have considered each one separately.
  • The decision of the property rights commission did not establish a procedure whereby the citizens would restore their property rights which had been violated.
  • The protocol contains no reference to the date of restoration of the property rights. It is not clear whether property registration entries are to be restored to citizens according to the date of the original registration, or whether the property rights are to be registered anew.

Consequently, we believe that the decision adopted by the Commission on 27 June of 2016 is ambiguous obscure, was adopted with significant irregularities and contradicts the opinion/recommendations adopted by the Joint Governmental Commission on this subject on 1 September 2014. The decision will not solve the current problem. Moreover, a valid suspicion arises that the contents of the document will trigger new court disputes.  

We call upon the Batumi City Municipality Property Rights Commission to examine the applications submitted by the 271 residents on an individual basis and to explain the grounds of the decision to each applicant in writing. It should make decisions after a thorough and comprehensive examination of the disputes and in full compliance with the law. 

Transparency International – Georgia is actively engaged in the processes concerning land plots in Gonio and is closely following the developments in this matter. 

On 27 June 2016, after a four-year wait, the Commission for Recognition of Property Rights on Illegally Occupied Land in Batumi City Municipality made a final decision concerning the land plots of 271 citizens in Gonio.

For several days before the adoption of the ruling, the residents of Gonio held a protest rally first outside the Batumi City Council and then outside the office of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajaria. On 23 June, Transparency International – Georgia issued a statement regarding the illegal actions by the police during the protest.

On 29 June 2016, one of the 271 citizens applied to the Public Registry to have his property title registered anew. However, the National Agency of Public Registry decided to suspend the registration process. Since no individual decisions were adopted, the Registry could not identify the specific party whose property title had been restored.

Although, according to the City Council official, the issue has been settled in favor of the residents, we strongly believe that the decision has significant shortcomings.  Namely:

  • The commission did not discuss individually the legality of recognizing the property rights over the land plots outside the protected area of the cultural heritage monument - the Gonio Fortress. However, according to the decision adopted on 7 November 2014, the administrative proceedings were launched with the very purpose of examining the legality of annulling the ownership titles of 271 citizens on the former territory of the Gonio agricultural enterprise.
  • The commission misled the citizens into thinking that it would check the legality of annulling their ownership titles despite the lack of a court decision. Although the law law did not explicitly requite the commission to do so, since  the administrative proceeding was instituted with the purpose of examining the applications of these 271 citizens, the commission should have considered each one separately.
  • The decision of the property rights commission did not establish a procedure whereby the citizens would restore their property rights which had been violated.
  • The protocol contains no reference to the date of restoration of the property rights. It is not clear whether property registration entries are to be restored to citizens according to the date of the original registration, or whether the property rights are to be registered anew.

Consequently, we believe that the decision adopted by the Commission on 27 June of 2016 is ambiguous obscure, was adopted with significant irregularities and contradicts the opinion/recommendations adopted by the Joint Governmental Commission on this subject on 1 September 2014. The decision will not solve the current problem. Moreover, a valid suspicion arises that the contents of the document will trigger new court disputes.  

We call upon the Batumi City Municipality Property Rights Commission to examine the applications submitted by the 271 residents on an individual basis and to explain the grounds of the decision to each applicant in writing. It should make decisions after a thorough and comprehensive examination of the disputes and in full compliance with the law. a