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Georgia’s Recent Political HistoryGeorgia is approximately the size of Ireland and its 2017 population was about 3.718 million. Georgia is a unitary semi-presidential republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy. After Georgia obtained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, initially, in the Constitution adopted in 1995 presidentialism was favoured. After the Rose Revolution of 2003, however, the post-revolutionary parliament in February 2004 adopted amendments that altered the structure into a semi-presidential one. However, from 2004 to 2012, political power was concentrated in the hands of the president, under a president-parliamentary variant of semi-presidentialism. Only during the period of cohabitation from 2012 to 2013 was the president’s authority challenged. In 2010, the Constitution was amended with effect from 2013, reducing the power of the president considerably. However, Transparency International Georgia liken Georgia’s semi-presidentialism to the Russian Federation and Central Asian states. They state that in reality the body lacks independence. The current Prime Minister is Irakli Garibashvili (since 20 November 2013) and is head of government for all the ministries of government except the power ministries of internal affairs, justice, and defence.Georgia Legal SystemWhile the Irish legal system is a common law system based on the English model but substantially modified by customary law (judicial review of legislative acts in Supreme Court), the Georgia legal system is a civil law system. The Georgia court system has five classes of trial-level courts: the magistrate, probate, juvenile, state, and superior courts. In addition, there are approximately 350 municipal courts operating locally. There are two appellate-level courts: the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.Public Defender of GeorgiaThe Public Defender of Georgia is an independent constitutional institution. It identifies the violations of human rights and contributes to the restoration of the violated rights and freedoms. The Public Defender of Georgia supervises: State agencies, local self-government agencies, public institutions and public officials.Equality DepartmentThe official functions of the Equality Department with the Public Defender of Georgia are;a) Examination of applications/complaints on violations of equality received by the Public Defender’s Office and development of relevant draft conclusions/recommendations/proposals;b) Preparation of draft constitutional claims on issues of its competence;c) Development of drafts of relevant sections of the Public Defender’s report of its competence;d) Conduction of monitoring of compliance with recommendations issued by the Public Defender on topics of its competence;e) Planning and conduction of educational activities in the human equality sphere;f) Analysis of the legislation and draft laws in the sphere of its competence and preparation of relevant draft recommendations/proposals;g) Performing other functions that naturally stem from the specifics of work of the department. Human Rights in GeorgiaSince 2006, Article 2(3) of the Labor Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment relations. Since 2008, transgender persons in Georgia can change documents and personal names only after having undergone sex reassignment surgery. Since 2014, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is outlawed. Regarding same-sex marriage, the Constitution of Georgia was gender-neutral, specifying that “Marriage shall be based upon equality of rights and free will of spouses.” However, Georgia’s Civil Code already defines marriage as a heterosexual union, thus effectively preventing same-sex marriages. Despite this a constitutional amendment passed the Parliament on 26 September 2017, establishing that marriage exists solely as “a union between a woman and a man for the purpose of creating a family”. The constitutional amendment is set to go into effect after the 2018 elections. In July 2017, Georgia’s Constitutional Court lifted a ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, ruling that it was unconstitutional.In 2005, Georgia ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), as well as reforms allowing minority churches to register themselves. In 2017, the 2011 Council of Europe Conventionon Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence was ratified.In 2010 the Human Rights Commission of the Council of Europe reported “The living conditions in prisons and prison camps of Georgia – also known under their euphemistic name as “correctional facilities” – are not conducive of improved outcomes for inmates. The Public Defender of Georgia issued a report (December 2017) on the Situation of the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in Georgia. The report refers to amendments made to the statutes of penitentiary establishments. These amendments concerned changing the procedural security rule of routine and unjustified handcuffing, and limiting the maximum term of placement of prisoners in de-escalation rooms to 72 hours. However, the recommendation of the Public Defender remains the same that the maximum term of placement of prisoners in de-escalation rooms should be reduced to 24 hours.

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