Civil society organizations have assessed the ruling Georgian Dream party’s decision to exclude the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) from the working group on electoral reforms to be “unfair and unreasonable,” and contradictory to the European Commission’s 1st (depolarization) and 10th (CSO involvement) recommendations.
The 20 August statement, signed by four CSOs, emphasized that banning ISFED’s participation “is an attempt to discredit critical and independent CSOs and this decision has a discriminatory context and pretext on the grounds of freedom of opinions and its expression.”
“Discrediting ISFED for critical views indicates that the ruling party does not comprehend the supervisory functions of the CSOs,” the statement underscored. “Unequal and unfair working environment created by the Georgian Dream leaves no room for the participation of [CSOs] in the working process initiated by the ruling party.”
The CSOs also pointed out that despite numerous civil society organizations expressing their willingness to participate in the working groups to fulfill EU priorities, the ruling party “allowed cooperation under its own terms and with an extremely limited number of CSOs only.”
They stressed, however, that until now, “despite the artificial obstacles created by the Georgian Dream…” they had continued to “consciously and constructively” participate in the working groups.
Along that line, the CSOs called on the ruling party to “fully comprehend the harmful effects of their decision and ensure the involvement” of ISFED in the electoral reforms working group before its next meeting.
“Until the ban on ISFED is lifted, the signatories of this statement will suspend their participation in all of the working groups created upon the initiative of the ruling party,” they pledged.
The joint statement was signed by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), the Democracy Research Institute (DRI), the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), and the Social Justice Center (SJC).
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