UN rights chief, unbiased consultants denounce Georgia’s new ‘foreign agents’ legislation | EUROtoday

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The Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence requires media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and different nonprofits to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” in the event that they obtain greater than 20 per cent of their funding from overseas. It was adopted on Tuesday.

The adoption has sparked protests within the capital, Tbilisi, and has been denounced by Georgia’s opposition as an effort to crackdown on unbiased media, civil society, rights activists and authorities critics

Chilling impact

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, mentioned that in adopting the legislation, authorities and lawmakers “chose to disregard” the warnings raised by rights defenders and civil society.

“The impacts on the rights to freedom of expression and association in Georgia unfortunately now risk being significant,” he warned.

The registration requirement may even have a chilling impact on these working for civic freedoms and considerably curbing their actions, Mr. Türk added.

“Stifling diverse voices on matters of serious public interest will only complicate the Government’s ability to respond effectively to the many challenges facing the country with sound legislative and policy measures,” he mentioned.

Assurances damaged

Meanwhile, unbiased rights consultants additionally denounced the legislation’s adoption, which they mentioned occurred regardless of assurances following the withdrawal of one other equivalent invoice final 12 months.

That invoice was withdrawn in March 2023, following giant scale protests, and in November, senior authorities officers and parliamentarians assured the UN Special Rapporteur on the state of affairs of human rights defenders that the draft wouldn’t be reintroduced.

We are shocked that even in light of clear opposition by a significant segment of Georgia’s people, the law was expedited through Parliament with media and civil society representatives denied access to the proceedings,” the UN Human Rights Council-appointed consultants mentioned.

They additionally voiced critical concern on the velocity of deliberations in Parliament, “which appear to have taken place without inclusive, transparent and genuine consultations with civil society, society at large and opposition parties.”

Rights activists not enemies of the state

Mr. Türk known as for the legislation to be shelved, and for the authorities to interact in dialogue with media, civil society organizations and human rights defenders.

The unbiased consultants additional warned that if signed into legislation by the President, it might put Georgia in contravention of its human rights obligations, notably on freedom of affiliation.

“For Georgia, this is a step in the wrong direction,” the consultants mentioned.

“Human rights defenders, young people and peaceful protestors are not enemies of the state,” they careworn.

Independent rights consultants

The consultants making the decision included the Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, on freedom of peaceable meeting and on freedom of opinion and expression; in addition to the Independent Expert on human rights and worldwide solidarity.

Appointed by the Human Rights Council – the UN’s highest intergovernmental discussion board on human rights – and forming part of its Special Procedures, particular rapporteurs and unbiased consultants are mandated to observe and assess the rights state of affairs in sure thematic or nation conditions.

They work voluntarily, should not UN employees and don’t obtain a wage.