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Freedom House: Georgia Remains ‘Partly Free’

 Source: Freedom in the World 2018

Georgia may be approaching an important turning point in its democratic trajectory and deserves special scrutiny during the coming year, according to an annual report by the U.S.-based rights watchdog Freedom House.

Freedom in the World 2018, a country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties in 195 countries and 14 territories, covers developments of 2017. Each country or territory is given a status “free,” “partly free,” or “not free” based on points in political rights and civil liberties categories on a scale from 1 to 7 with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.

Georgia’s rating in both political rights and civil liberties categories remained unchanged at 3 and the country was again listed among “partly free” countries. It, however, was placed in the “Countries to Watch in 2018” list.

“The ruling Georgian Dream party recently pushed through constitutional amendments that – combined with the financial backing of its reclusive billionaire patron – will make an effective challenge by the fractured opposition in future elections even more unlikely, potentially cementing the party’s control for years to come,” reads the Countries to Watch section on Georgia.

Georgia is referred to in the Eurasia section as well. “Perhaps the most alarming threats to democracy in the region involved authoritarian forces reaching across borders to punish their critics. Exiled Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was kidnapped in Tbilisi by men who allegedly spoke Georgian, then transported across the border to Azerbaijan, raising concerns that Georgian authorities were complicit in the abduction,” reads the report.

Freedom House ranks South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well, grouping them as “not free” and “partly free,” respectively. Like in previous reports, in the political rights category Abkhazia has 4 points and in the civil liberties – 5; South Ossetia has 7 points in political rights and 6 in civil liberties.

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