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OGP Gives 30 Days to Government to Develop Working Plan Addressing Key Concerns

In response to concerns raised by Georgia’s Open Government Interagency Coordination Council about the reintroduced Foreign Agents Law, the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Criteria and Standards Subcommittee on May 6 issued a response policy document with recommendations urging Georgian authorities to withdraw “current or proposed legislation that discriminates against, stigmatizes, or hinders the freedom of expression and association of civil society organizations, media representatives, and vulnerable groups,” and giving them until June 6 to develop a comprehensive plan to address the identified challenges. The failure to do so may lead to Georgia’s suspension from OGP” unless the concerns are addressed, OGP notes. “Continued disregard of the values and principles of OGP could also end in the cessation of membership in the Partnership,”- the OPG press release says.

According to the OGP document, in addition to the withdrawal of the discriminating legislation, the government action plan must address the issue of safeguarding “freedoms of expression and assembly, the space for civil society and their ability to operate without physical and verbal attacks, including in election periods.”

Commenting on the Foreign Agents Bill, Lucy McTernan, Civil Society Co-Chair of the OGP’s Criteria and Standards Subcommittee stressed that “This legislation will negatively impact civil society groups and their operational freedom. I join my fellow Subcommittee colleagues in condemning the advancement of this legislation, and urge Georgia to refrain from passing laws that contradict the desires of the vast majority of citizens.” According to her, “the reported attacks on journalists and media independence are equally concerning, and run contrary to the Open Government Declaration. I stand with civil society activists and journalists in Georgia during these challenging times.”

In the process of working on the plan, the Georgian authorities should also consider the recommendations issued by third parties, including the ones issued by the European Commission within the framework of Georgia’s EU integration.

The further recommendations contained in the document include: improvement of the protection of human rights , through adoption and implementation of an ambitious human rights strategy and ensuring freedom of assembly, effective investigation of cases of threats against the safety of vulnerable groups, media and civil society representatives, consulting and engaging with the civil society towards their meaningful involvement in legislative and policymaking processes, etc.

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


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