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GYLA: Granting Ownership of Forests to Orthodox Church ‘Discriminatory’

Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), a local watchdog, has slammed the Parliament’s decision to endorse amendments to the Forest Code of Georgia, which foresee granting ownership of hundreds of hectares of forestland to the Georgian Orthodox Church, highlighting that the move is “discriminatory” and goes against the constitutional court practice.

In a statement released on June 8, the organization noted that “granting additional financial and property guarantees to the Georgian Orthodox Church puts other religious groups under unequal conditions.”

Citing the 2018 decision of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, GYLA said that the provision of the Law on State Property, awarding the GOC the right to receive state property free of charge, had been struck down by the Constitutional Court.

“We consider that this case contradicts equality standards stipulated by the Georgian constitution and overrules the foregone decision by the Constitutional Court,” GYLA said.

It further stressed that the amendments goes against the objectives of the Forest Code and key principles of forest management.

On May 22, the Georgian Parliament endorsed the amendments to the Forest Code of Georgia with its third hearing with 79 votes in favor and none against – amid strong criticism voiced by the civil society organizations. Part of civil society organizations slammed the legislative amendments. Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI), a religious rights watchdog, plans to challenge the Parliament’s decision in the constitutional court.

Also read:

Parliament Passes Controversial Amendments to Forest Code of Georgia

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


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