CoE Secretary General “Very Disappointed” about Adoption of Agents Law Without Venice Commission Opinion

On May 15, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, issued a statement on the foreign agents law, regretting that it was adopted in the final reading without waiting for the opinion of the Venice Commission and without taking into account the concerns expressed by the international partners of Georgia about the law’s incompatibility with EU standards.

The adoption of the foreign agents law by the Georgian Parliament “without waiting for the opinion of the Venice Commission is very disappointing and does not reflect the spirit of constructive dialogue,” the statement laments.

“International partners’ concerns regarding the draft law’s incompatibility with European democratic and human rights standards were ignored,” the statement regrets, adding that “the lack of genuine parliamentary deliberations is not in accordance with an inclusive democratic process.”

The statement notes that the Venice Commission is about to issue its opinion on the foreign agents law and that “its legal recommendations should provide the basis for meaningful dialogue and allow a way forward in line with Council of Europe norms and values.”

In addition, Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić says she is “deeply troubled” by reports of recent intimidation campaigns, physical attacks, disproportionate use of force, unlawful detentions and illegal dissemination of personal data, and the use of stigmatizing official narratives targeting peaceful protesters, civil activists, journalists and opposition figures, and calls on the Georgian authorities to take “immediate steps” to prevent such actions, “which are irreconcilable with the principles of a democratic society.” She also calls on the authorities to properly and effectively investigate all reported cases of alleged rights abuses.

“The Council of Europe stands ready to assist Georgia in ensuring full compliance with international standards, thereby consolidating its democratic development and further progress towards EU accession,” the statement concludes.

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