Challenges in the Protection of Property Rights in Tourism Zones

12 Apr, 2011

On April 5, the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) unveiled a report ‘Challenges in the Protection of Property Rights in Georgia’. The report focuses on the fact of depriving 271 Georgian citizens in Gonio of their property bestowed to them and legally registered in 2007-2010.

The report, which is based on the example of the Gonio village, presents the first phase of the survey conducted as part of the ‘Support for the Protection of Rights to Property, an OSGF funded project. The project has been implemented by four NGOs, including the “Green Alternative” Association, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Transparency International Georgia and the Georgian Regional Media Association.  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.

“Our report is based on the information obtained from the population, photo materials, letters and most importantly, the decision of the commission”, said Kakha Kozhoridze of the Young Lawyers’ Association of Georgia.

Gonio is not the only place where the population’s rights to property have been challenged.  The problem has also been acutely felt in Mestia, Anaklia and other Black Sea coastal zones transformed to tourism zones by the state. “Growing investor interest is good since this creates opportunities for economic development. However, 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 makes a legal assessment of the event that took place in the village of Gonio.  In particular, in November 2010, 271 citizens received notifications from the Commission for Recognition of Property of the Local Council (Sakrebulo) at the Khelvachauri Municipality that their property certificates had become void.  Gonio dwellers say they have not been offered any compensation for the land plots even though they are ready to hand over the plots to the authorities voluntarily if they are offered alternative land plots or some compensation. “We demand that the authorities give compensation to the population and raise the question of the accountability of the commission “, said Kakha Kozhoridze.

The cases in Svaneti, where the local population has had real estate in “traditional ownership” for centuries, and where this property as a rule is not registered, are still being studied.

The NGOs will soon come up with the report on the second phase of the survey.

See the Press Release,

See the Georgian and English versions of the report

View, listen to and watch the media coverage of the presentation of the report.

Visit the Photo Gallery“.