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Georgia: UN calls for “withdrawal” of bill on “foreign influence”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for Thursday the "withdrawal" of the bill on "foreign influence" currently under consideration in the Georgian Parliament and expresses concern over the "disproportionateé of strength" against those who oppose it.

“I urge the Georgian authorities to withdraw this bill and to initiate a dialogue, in particular with civil society and the media,” said Volker Türk, in a press release, believing that “qualifying NGOs and media benefiting from funding foreigners from +organizations acting in the interests of a foreign power+ constitutes a serious threat to the rights to freedom of expression and association.”

” “I am concerned by reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by law enforcement against protesters and media workers in the Georgian capital Tbilisi this week,” Türk said.

Since April 9, tens of thousands of demonstrators have been protesting against the controversial bill on “foreign influence”, adopted at second reading by Parliament despite the mobilization massive response from its detractors.

The ruling party, the Georgian Dream, reintroduced this bill seen as an obstacle to Tbilisi's aspirations to join the European Union.

The deputies voted on Wednesday 83 for and 23 against this text which the Georgian Dream intends to adopt definitively by mid-May, despite three weeks of mobilization in the streets by its opponents.

Georgia: UN calls for “withdrawal” of bill on “foreign influence”

Demonstration of the controversial “foreign influence” bill on May 1, 2024 in Tbilisi, Georgia © AFP – Vano SHLAMOV

The text – severely criticized by the European Union or the United States – must still pass a third reading and President Salomé Zourabichvili, in conflict with the ruling party, is expected to veto it. The Georgian Dream, however, has enough votes to be able to override this.

“I call on the authorities to carry out prompt and transparent investigations into all allegations of ill-treatment during or after demonstrations or in detention,” insists Mr. Türk.

He calls for the release of those arrested “arbitrarily” and also calls on the demonstrators to “exercise their rights peacefully and without recourse to violence”.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116