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Over 50 International Rights Organizations Stand with Georgian CSOs, Call for Withdrawal of Foreign Agents Law

On May 10, more than 50 human rights organizations from around the world issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Georgian civil society, condemning the Georgian government’s efforts to reintroduce the controversial foreign agents law, and calling for its withdrawal.

In the statement, the organizations say they are “deeply troubled” by the efforts of the ruling Georgian Dream government “to stifle civil society voices” through the reintroduced Russian-style legislation that targets CSOs and independent media outlets.

Expressing solidarity with Georgian civil society, international organizations stress that this “attack” on freedom of expression and assembly, fundamental rights of a democratic and pluralistic society, affects them all. “It is an attempt to dehumanize and stigmatize civil society activity, something that runs contrary to  Georgia’s human rights commitments, as well as international human rights standards and values,” the statement says.

Noting that the same risks are seen in other countries where similar processes are being developed “to curtail accountability and defense of human rights,” the statement points to the effects the Georgian government-backed law is expected to have, highlighting in particular “reprisals, attacks, red-tagging, imrpisonments, abductions and killings of human rights defenders, envrionemntal activits, legal professionals, journalists, workers, community leaders and other civil society actors.” The statement regrets that these risks are now faced by the Georgian people “who have been fiercely fighting for liberty, independence, freedom and democracy for the past 35 years.”

Expressing solidarity with the Georgian people, international human rights organizations recognize that the adoption of the law will also have “implications” for the countries where they operate.

The organizations urge the Georgian government to drop the law and return to the reform agenda, which they say is “so much needed for Georgia’s continued leadership in democratization and development.”

With the Asian Development Bank’s Annual General Meeting taking place in Tbilisi in the coming days, the organizations also call on international financial institutions and other international partners of Georgia “to publicly condemn this attack on human rights and democracy and publicly state their support to Georgian civil society and people of Georgia who demand democracy and human rights.”

As yet another strong statement from the West calls on the Georgian government to drop the law, and massive protests against it continue, the ruling majority remains determined to pass the law in its final third reading, which is expected to take place next week. Although the law has not yet been passed, opponents of the law are already being intimidated, attacked and terrorized as “agents.”

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