A group of civil society organizations (CSO) released a joint statement on 15 September which condemned the campaign of accusations against Georgia’s leading CSOs by top ruling Georgian Dream party officials, and urged them to “stop attacking and harassing non-governmental organizations.”
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The statement emphasized that recent comments made by ruling party chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze and MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, which questioned the income and financial transparency of several organizations, are particularly “worrying.”
They underscored that such accusations “lack a legal basis, have a discrediting effect on civil society organizations, and threaten the existence of a safe environment for civil and human rights organizations in the country.”
The organizations further highlighted that anti-civil society statements can be “considered an early signal and threat to the free environment of civil society organizations in the country.”
In that context, the CSOs stressed that such attacks are characteristic of “authoritarian regimes” and drew a parallel with countries like Russia, Azerbaijan, and Hungary, where recent trends have been to “attack non-governmental organizations, especially human rights and democratization organizations, control their financial turnover, and declare them as foreign agents.”
The organizations underlined the fact that according to various international agreements, the Georgian government has an obligation to support civil society organizations working in the country.
On that note, they called on the ruling party to strengthen the participation of civil society and human rights defenders in decision-making processes while ensuring the existence of a safe and free environment for their activities.
They accentuated that this must be done “by declaring public support for them, as well as through the effective investigation of crimes committed against them.”
The statement was signed by 20 civil society organizations including the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF), the Human Rights Center, the Media Institute, the Shame Movement, and others.