Challenges related to Property Rights Protection in Svaneti

14 Jul, 2011

On July 12, 2011 the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) presented a report “Challenges in the Protection of Property Rights in Georgia”. The report highlights  cases of Svaneti and provides legal assessment and analysis of the ties with ongoing processes in the country. In Svaneti, locals own real estate for centuries as the so- called “traditional ownership” and this property in most cases is not registered.

Study about Svaneti is the second stage of the project “Protection of property rights in new touristic regions”, financed and supported by the Foundation. The project is carried out by 4 NGOs “Green Alternative”, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Transparency International Georgia and Regional Media Association of Georgia. The NGOs have looked into the facts of the infringement of property rights through meeting with the local population in Mestia, Gonio and Anaklia.  They have also collected relevant data from public sources according to the stipulations of law.

First results of the study were presented in April, where attention was drawn on the cases that papered in the village of Gonio (Settlement by the Black Sea in the autonomous republic of Adjara).

According to the representative of Transparency International Georgia, “the report is done according to the information got from local people, as well as photo materials, information received by letters and what’s the most important, decision of the commission.”

Problems relating protection of property rights do not pose only Gonio and Svaneti though. The problem has also been acutely felt in Anaklia and other Black Sea coastal zones transformed to tourism zones by the state.

“Apart from positive effects transforming the territories into tourism zones have had negative effects like sacrificing interests of the local population.  We would like to draw public attention to the infringement of property rights in order to prevent and eradicate such practices.  We would like to propose recommendations to decision-makers to achieve the systemic solution of the question”, said Keti Khutsishvili, the OSGF Executive Director.

The report provides legal assessment for  Mestia’s cases. According to the study, registration of land in ownership is hindered, mainly by artificial barriers set up by state agencies for suspending the registration process. The Commission for Recognition of Right to Ownership, which is authorized to register ownership to land plots, is non-functional owing to strict legislation requirements. Land plots in possession of the local population are being massively dissected and decimated due to various construction works. Citizens are deprived of the possibility to register – based on lawful possession. People do not  get any compensations.

“As a result of our endeavor we unveiled problems related to traditional ownership rights. Also, difficulties, connected to the protection of property right and territories registration. The second important issue is that local people get informed about reconstructive works only close to launch and consequently, they are deprived of the opportunity of being involved in the decision making process.  Our advocacy campaign aims to help Mestia dwellers protect their property rights and the second, improve the procedures, which will involve people in the decision making process”, noted Keti Burjaidze, the project analyst.


See the full version of the report