UN human rights chief 'deeply regrets' adoption of ‘foreign influence' law in Georgia

This ‘overbroad law' risks organizations being ‘labelled, stigmatised, and having to face atmosphere of mistrust, fear and hostility,' says Volker Turk

17:02 - 15/05/2024 الأربعاء
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk

The UN human rights chief on Wednesday expressed “deep regret” over the adoption of the “foreign influence” law in Georgia and said it will “seriously” undermine the freedoms of expression and association.

"Authorities and lawmakers have chosen to disregard the many warnings by human rights defenders and civil society organisations,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said in a statement.

“The impacts on the rights to freedom of expression and association in Georgia unfortunately now risk being significant,” Turk added.

The new law, adopted on Wednesday, requires organizations, including media outlets, which receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register with the state. It also obliges them to publish annual financial reports.

Noting that the ability of associations to seek, secure and use resources is essential to their effective operation, Turk said: "This overbroad law risks these organisations being labelled and stigmatised, and having to face an atmosphere of mistrust, fear and hostility."

“The registration requirement may also have a chilling effect on them, significantly curtailing their activities,” he said, adding: “Stifling diverse voices on matters of serious public interest will only complicate the Government's ability to respond effectively to the many challenges facing the country with sound legislative and policy measures.”

He called for the law to be shelved, and for the authorities to engage in dialogue with concerned media and civil society organizations as well as human rights defenders.

Turk noted that his office previously expressed concern about the “unnecessary and disproportionate” use of force against people who were protesting against the bill.

“I call on the authorities in Georgia to build on recent important human rights achievements and to work with the country's vibrant civil society to resolve the current challenges through an inclusive and rights-centered process," he said.

#Volker Turk
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