David Sergienko Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs Government of the Republic of Georgia 

Dear Mr. Sergienko: On Monday, December 16, Disability Rights International (DRI), a Washington-DC based human rights organization, released a report, “Left Behind: The Exclusion of Children and Adults with Disabilities from Reform and Rights Protection in the Republic of Georgia.

The report is a product of a three-year investigation involving disability rights and medical experts. We identify serious human rights violations against children and adults with disabilities that need your urgent attention. While Georgia has gone through a very impressive process of reform to help children from orphanages live in the community, children and adults with disabilities remain segregated from society in institutions. 

We ask that you act immediately to stop new institutionalization and create supported family environments for children and adults with disabilities now in institutions. Of particular concern are children with disabilities who are being denied medical care in the Tbilisi Infant Home. The denial of life-saving medical care has resulted in a 30% mortality rate of children with disabilities in recent years. Further, the denial of pain medication to these children violates the UN Convention against Torture.

We ask that the government immediately intervene to ensure all children with disabilities receive appropriate and prompt medical care and that parents are supported to obtain this care without having to place their child in a state-run orphanage. There is an urgent need to conduct human rights monitoring inside of orphanages run by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Government and UNICEF officials have reported that there is no accounting for the number or location of children in these orphanages—and that these institutions are unlicensed and are being operated in violation of MoLSHA regulations. Even when institutions are privately run, it is a government obligation to ensure oversight and rights enforcement. 

We request permission from the Georgian government for independent human rights organizations, including Disability Rights International, to visit these institutions. Forty-five (45) local Georgian NGOs have expressed support of DRI's findings and recommendations (see https://www.change.org/petitions/save-persons-with-disabilities-in-the-republic-of-georgia-2).

These organizations include:

  • Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
  • Women's Initiatives Support Group (WISG)
  • The Union Cover Civil Development Agency (CIDA)
  • Association of Reform (GRASS)
  • An Accessible Environment for Everyone (AEE)
  • Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
  • The Democratic Initiative (GDI)
  • Damoukideveli Life Youth Center (YCIL)
  • NGO Article 42 Women and Reality Union Organization
  • "Let's Be Friends " Media Development Fund (MDF)
  • Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
  • Liberty Institute Association of Social Workers
  • ALPE Foundation
  • LGBT Georgia Identity Coalition for Independent Living
  • Women's Fund in Georgia (WFG)
  • Parents of Children with Down syndrome and the union "Our Children ."
  • Association "Together"
  • International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
  • Association of Women, Children and Society
  • Tserovali Youth House Organization for a Better Future
  • Multinational Association of Women
  • Union of Russian Women
  • First Step of Georgia
  • Center for Rehabilitation and Development of Shared Charities
  • Taso Foundation (Foundation for Women and Memory Research Center)
  • Friends Sakelmokmedo Fund Studio
  • Accent On The Association of People with Disabilities Club
  • Center for Human Rights
  • Mercury Association
  • Women in Development
  • Repatriates Union Samtskhe -
  • Javakheti Regional Tolerance Association
  • Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE)
  • Women's Information Center (WIC)
  • Psikoservisebis Center
  • Energy Efficiency Fund
  • Center for Social Sciences