Statement of the Georgian Bar Association

1 March 2023

Georgian Bar Association echoes the ongoing discussion regarding the reintroduction of the legislative initiative on ‘’Foreign Agents’ Law’’. We believe that the content of the draft law, its timing and the confrontational background of the debate pose risks in deepening polarization, social conflict and undermining democratic processes, all of which could adversely affect Georgia’s overall progress in European Integration.

Given the prevailing context, when it is already known to the general public that civil society organizations primarily rely on international donor assistance for funding, we find the emphasis on enhancing transparency as the primary objective of the proposed legislation inadequate and unrelated. It’s crucial to clearly elucidate the threats and risks that necessitate the adoption of the aforementioned draft law.

It is essential for Georgia to develop democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law, safeguard human rights, and ensure quality justice, in which civil society organizations make a valuable contribution. It should be noted that numerous lawyers who are members of the Georgian Bar Association are actively involved in civil society organizations, engaging in strategic legal actions and providing legal aid to vulnerable groups. Accordingly, the adoption of a term like ‘’agent of foreign influence’’ may contribute to the marginalization of human rights lawyers, thereby violating the principles of lawyer equality and non-discrimination.

Considering the above, the Georgian Bar Association calls upon the Parliament of Georgia to actively cooperate with international partners and align its actions with the prerequisites of the European Union integration agenda when assessing the potential adoption of the draft law.

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