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Georgia: adoption of repressive 'foreign influence' bill condemned

Civil society organisations with sizable foreign budgets will be required to register themselves ‘conductors of the interests of a foreign power’

More street protests in Tbilisi, with police using water cannon against demonstrators

‘This legislation has no place in a society that respects human rights’ - Marie Struthers

Responding to the Georgian parliament’s adoption of a highly restrictive “foreign influence” bill earlier today, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said:

“Today, Georgia’s governing party bulldozed through this harmful law which tramples on the human rights of all people in Georgia.

“This damaging bill contravenes Georgia’s international obligations on the rights to freedom of expression and association, and strikes at the heart of civil society’s ability to operate freely and effectively.

“Independent civil society in Georgia contributes not only to the protection of human rights and delivery of essential services, but provides important checks and balances on the country’s increasing restrictions on human rights and civic space.

“We urge the Georgian authorities to cease their efforts to stifle freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

“This legislation has no place in a society that respects human rights.”

‘Conductors of the interests of a foreign power’ 

Earlier today, the Georgian parliament adopted the bill on “foreign influence” after its third and final reading and it now awaits a presidential signature before becoming law. Once in force, it will oblige all civil society organisations with more than 20% of their budget coming from foreign sources to register themselves as “conductors of the interests of a foreign power”. As a result, many prominent civil society organisations are expected to cease their work to avoid smears, stigmatisation and undue restrictions on their right to freedom of association. According to reports, earlier today police forces clashed with demonstrators opposing the bill. Water cannon and special police units were deployed, and traffic was blocked along Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare.


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