TI-Georgia: Parliament is Becoming a Closed Institution

According to the Transparency International (TI) – Georgia assessment, the Parliament is becoming a closed institution. The watchdog believes that the legislature is using security as a pretext to limit public participation in its activities.

On September 4, Parliament adopted new Security Rules, which tightened the access to the Parliament for the general public and media. “The new security rules limit the participation of the public and civil society in parliamentary activities to such an extent that they eventually transform the legislature into a closed body,” – reads the document released by the watchdog.

The new rules, which prohibit a visitor from communicating with a journalist in the space reserved for the media without the permission of the Parliament office, and which prohibit bringing protest rallies’ posters and banners, contradict freedom of expression, says TI Georgia. The watchdog stresses that freedom of political expression should be guaranteed to a particularly high standard. It is unacceptable to restrict freedom of expression simply because it causes “discomfort” to members of Parliament.

The Rules for procedures for admission to the Parliament building have also been tightened. According to the new rules, it becomes necessary to record the specific purpose of entering Parliament. TI-Georgia notes that in a Parliamentary Republic, the openness and transparency of the Parliament is crucial for democratic development and that the parliament should facilitate citizens’ involvement in parliamentary life. “Therefore, the regulation cannot be justified,”- the watchdog concludes adding that in the absence of a direct security threat, citizens must be able to freely attend committee meetings and public sessions of Parliament.

In its statement, TI recalls cases, when citizens have been denied entry in the Parliament without explanation. It also states the security considerations are often invoked, when Parliament is working on a sensitive topic and is likely to attract criticism.

TI believes the procedure favors the transformation of the legislature into a closed body, as stricter rules have also affected the representatives of local and international non-governmental organizations. Since 2022, the Parliament has revoked the permanent entry permits for them, which has created a significant obstacle to the process of observing the activities of the legislative body. In the same year, five organizations were asked to leave the premises of the Parliament.

In 2023, updated media accreditation regulations came into force that made the Parliament a more closed and non-transparent body for the critical media. This also has an impact the quality of information disseminated to society.

This year Parliament also endorsed the amendments, according to which it is now restricted for the former Members to enter the Parliament, without the special permission.

On 5 October, the Speaker of the Parliament announced new proposed changes to the Parliament’s internal rules, according to which representatives of the Parliament’s office won’t be allowed to interact with journalists in the area reserved for the media without the consent of the Public Relations Department.

TI-Georgia says this is particularly worrying and regrettable given the achievements of the Georgian Parliament in the field of open government. In 2015, Georgia was the first country to draft and adopt the Open Government Action Plan for 2015-2016 and also signed the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness. In the same year, Georgia received the Open Government Partnership Government Champions Award among 65 countries.

TI Georgia calls on the Parliament to ensure the transparency of its work, to involve citizens in this process and to adhere to the principles of democratic governance.

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


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