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Europe rights body slams Georgia's 'foreign influence' law

By AFP

May 22, 2024 12:06 AM


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Europe's top rights organisation said Tuesday that Georgia should repeal a "foreign influence" law that sparked a wave of protests and allegations the government was trying to stifle dissent.

Last week, Georgian lawmakers passed the contested influence law, which critics say would silence opposition groups and shift the country away from a pro-Western course back toward Russia.

Georgia, a former Soviet republic, is one of the 46 member states of the Council of Europe, which means it is bound by rulings of its European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The law's "fundamental flaws" risk impeding "freedoms of association and expression, the right to privacy, the right to participate in public affairs as well as the prohibition of discrimination", the Council's Venice Commission -- its legal advisory body -- said in a statement.

Citing the widespread protests against the move by the governing Georgian Dream party, the commission said the government's adoption of the law "left no space for genuine discussion and meaningful consultation, in open disregard for the concerns of large parts of the Georgian people".

"This manner of proceeding does not meet the European requirements of democratic law-making," it added.

The leaders of France and Germany had already said Sunday they were "deeply concerned by the situation in Georgia", saying the foreign influence law goes "against European values".

The European Union has said the measure is incompatible with Georgia's bid for membership of the bloc, which is enshrined in the country's constitution and overwhelmingly supported by the population according to opinion polls.

Georgian Dream insists it is committed to joining the EU and portrays the bill as aimed at increasing the transparency of NGO funding.


AFP


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