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Public Defender Calls for Restraint on Criticism against CSOs

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria has slammed the authorities for their criticism of the civil society organizations, and has urged them to observe the international standards in protecting the rights and the safety of civil society groups and activists.

In a statement released on October 24, Nino Lomjaria said “some senior officials have recently made a number of statements aimed at discrediting leaders of the non-governmental organizations working in the important areas of Georgia’s democratic development.”

The Public Defender noted that the CSOs have also come under “vigorous and organized attack” on social media. “Such an attitude is unacceptable and endangers the process of democratic development in Georgia,” Lomjaria added.

Later yesterday, a group of 14 rights groups released a statement, slamming the authorities for their “deliberate attacks” against CSOs. The organizations stressed “the government’s aggressive rhetoric against the CSOs raises concerns at the international level as well.”

“Rather than attacking non-governmental organizations and their heads, the authorities should, first and foremost, answer the questions of the public regarding the corruption allegations and hold accountable all those complicit, regardless of how influential they may be,” reads the CSO statement.

  • The ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GDDG) officials launched a coordinated attack against the civil society groups earlier in October, shortly after the joint statement of thirteen leading CSOs that the Omega Group-related developments indicated at “a severe crisis in the governance system, clear signs of high level corruption and informal, clan rule.”
  • The GDDG politicians continued criticizing the CSOs throughout the month, with Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze saying on October 10 that absence of “clear” CSO position on Rustavi 2 TV director’s “fascist” remarks on Zurabishvili was indicative of their complicity to “fascism.”
  • On October 22, Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said the executive director of the Transparency International-Georgia, Eka Gigauri, “could have allegedly contributed” to the dispersal of a demonstration on November 7, 2007 in her capacity as a “former high official of the police.”
  • GDDG Leader Bidzina Ivanishvili commented on the matter on October 23, saying CSO leaders “are activists of the United National Movement, who have managed to permeate the civil society and have been attacking the authorities [including Salome Zurabishvili], and when they are responded, they immediately present it as an attack against CSOs.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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