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Türk Deeply Regrets Adoption Of ‘foreign Influence’ Law In Georgia.

GENEVA (15 May 2024) 

UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk on Thursday expressed deep regret at the adoption by Georgia's Parliament of the Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence, noting that the legislation seriously undermines the freedom of expression and association.

“Authorities and lawmakers have chosen to disregard the many warnings by human rights defenders and civil society organisations,” Türk said. “The impacts on the rights to freedom of expression and association in Georgia unfortunately now risk being significant.”

The law, adopted yesterday, declares civil society and media organisations which receive more than 20 percent of their funding from foreign sources as “organisations acting in interest of a foreign power” and requires registration as such.

The ability of associations to seek, secure and use resources is essential to their effective operation. This overbroad law risks these organisations being labelled and stigmatised, and having to face an atmosphere of mistrust, fear and hostility,” the High Commissioner said.

“The registration requirement may also have a chilling effect on them, significantly curtailing their activities. 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.”

Türk reiterated his call for the law to be shelved, and for the authorities to engage in dialogue with concerned media and civil society organisations as well as human rights defenders.

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The UN Human Rights Office has previously expressed concern about unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against demonstrators.

“Authorities need to promptly investigate allegations of violence and ill-treatment in the context of the protests, including reported assaults on protesters and their families,” Türk said.

“I call on the authorities in Georgia to build on recent important human rights achievements and to work with the country’s vibrant civil society to resolve the current challenges through an inclusive and rights-centered process,” the High Commissioner said.

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