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Third Sector Suggests the Parliament to Be Reasonable


Lela Kunchulia, Radio Liberty

Strict criticism from non-governmental organizations is related with the amendments to three draft–laws concerning environment. They are draft amendments to the Georgian Law on Citizens’ Political Unions, Criminal Code of Georgia and Election Code.

NGOs working on election issues think the draft-laws reflect several extremely strict and unreasonable restrictions which will restrict freedom of expression among other restrictions.

The NGOs suggest the parliament of Georgia to ensure the compliance of the national law with human rights international standards and to prevent execution of unbalanced and biased norms. The NGO representatives think similar threat is easily visible in the draft-amendments.

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Transparency International – Georgia, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and Coalition for Freedom of Choice signed the joint petition to the Parliament.  The NGOs presented the petition text to the media during the press-conference in the Hotel Tbilisi Marriot on December 26. They announced a very unpleasant assumption that “if the draft-amendments are adopted, it might create problems for voters, restrict freedom of expression and make the already existing restriction for the private sector disproportionately strict.”

The NGO sector views the norm envisaged in the draft-amendments as unreasonable according to which, “limitations and obligations of accountability envisaged for political parties also apply to legal persons connected to them, (including non-governmental organizations, business companies or religious organizations) who will call on voters to support or refrain from supporting any political force.”

The proposed draft-amendments prohibit the legal entities to fund the political parties but the latter can receive donation no more than 60 000 GEL per year from physical person.

A political party will be accountable before the Chamber of Control and will be prohibited to receive advantageous credit from a bank.

“If any of us, the NGOs, will suggest our colleagues to vote for this or that political party, the NGO will enjoy the same restriction as political parties; this new regulation is unacceptable for us,” said Nina Khatiskatsi, program director of the TI-Georgia during the press-conference on December 26. Like her colleagues she also believes that the abovementioned restrictions “will create threats for freedom of legal entities and citizens and will grant unrestricted power to the state to control them.”

Tamar Chugoshvili, the head of the GYLA, said the restriction of suggestions related with any political party breaches their right to freedom of expression.” “The suggestion does not breach the freedom of expression and it cannot become basis to impose some restrictions on a physical or legal person. We think, they interfere in the freedom of expression.”

Executive director of the ISFED Nino Lomjaria also shared her colleagues’ idea and evaluated the draft-amendments designed for the Criminal Code of Georgia as extremely strict and unreasonable which aim to detain a person under charge of bribing a voter. A voter will be punished under the Criminal Law together with the political party if he receives money, or other property or service from the party.

For example, if a political party funds any medical treatment for the voter, the latter might be imprisoned for 3 years. Besides that, as Nino Lomjaria said, the public servants enjoy some privileges according to the draft-law and they will not be punished for similar activities. “The criminal liabilities will be imposed only on private persons and political parties and similar sanctions are not envisaged for a public official who will illegally use administrative resource or will abuse his power during the elections.”

The NGO representatives went to the Parliament’s Legal Committee after the press-conference. The government will respond to the notes of the third sector during the special parliamentary session on December 27. According to the preliminary information, the MPs are to enact the disputable draft-laws on Thursday session.

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