ECOM Statement. On Adoption of Oppressive Legislation in Georgia

Май 21, 2024
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On 14 May 2024, the Georgian parliament, despite ongoing mass protests inside the country and numerous calls from the international community, adopted a highly controversial bill “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” in the third reading. The draft law requires all non-governmental organizations and media outlets that receive more than twenty per cent of their annual funding from abroad to register as “organizations pursuing the interest of a foreign power” with the Ministry of Justice. It also imposes additional reporting requirements for these organizations, inspections, and administrative liability for violations (for both legal entities and individuals), including fines of up to 9,300 USD in equivalent.

As the Council of Europe and the United Nations representatives pointed out, this draft law is incompatible with Georgia’s obligations as a member of these international organizations, since its provisions would violate the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association. It would align Georgia with undemocratic regimes that have systematically worked to suppress independent civil society using similar measures, such as the one in Russia. Representatives of the European Union warned Georgia that the adoption of this bill would hinder the country’s EU accession efforts.

This bill, if enacted, would stigmatize civil society activities and independent media and provide authorities with new tools to crack down on dissent and free spirit in the country. It poses a threat to all Georgian civil society groups that promote democracy and human rights, and it would particularly jeopardize the work of those NGOs that provide important services to vulnerable and marginalized groups of society, such as survivors of gender-based violence, people with disabilities, people living with HIV, people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBT people. Creating legal obstacles for access to international funding could pose a big, and even insurmountable, challenge for programs providing health services, including in HIV, and other vital support and assistance, as many of those are run by NGOs. This would significantly worsen the situation of thousands of people living in Georgia.

Instead of listening to the voice of thousands of citizens who have flooded the streets of Tbilisi to peacefully protest against the bill, the authorities answered with repression and violence, including the use of water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and mass arrests of protesters. They also launched a campaign of harassment and attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and opposition figures, and their families, including children. In this regard we remind the Georgian authorities that freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights guaranteed by the international law which the Georgian state is obliged to follow. 

ECOM reminds that the “foreign influence” bill is not the only troubling legislative initiative in Georgia. In April 2024, a draft constitutional law “On Protecting Family Values and Minors” was also tabled, which would ban any public gathering, product, or educational program that “popularize” same-sex marriage and adoption, and gender transitioning, among others. We are deeply concerned that the Georgian authorities may proceed fast with the adoption of this draft law regardless of any criticism in the same manner as they did currently. 

ECOM would like to declare the following position on the bill “On Transparency of Foreign Influence”:

  • ECOM expresses its support to and stands in absolute solidarity with the Georgian civil society and LGBT community in particular;
  • ECOM urges the Georgian authorities to stop its attempts to introduce repressive legislation violating the rights of Georgian people and curb the escalating campaign of repressions;
  • ECOM calls upon the Georgian authorities to protect freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression; to investigate all incidents of illegal use of force against peaceful protesters and to bring the perpetrators to justice;
  • ECOM calls upon the Georgian authorities to conduct an open and constructive dialogue with civil society on all the issues related to the observance of human rights and implementation of public healthcare programs;
  • ECOM urges Georgia’s international partners to use all available diplomatic and legal means to ensure the protection of democratic principles and human rights in the country;
  • ECOM urges the international community to demonstrate and provide unequivocal support to human rights defenders in the country;
  • ECOM calls upon both Georgian authorities and international partners to ensure that life-saving healthcare programs including those aimed at key and vulnerable populations, continue uninterrupted.


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