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Georgia’s new law is a setback for democratic values

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28 May, 2024Although Georgian President Salomé Zourabisjvili vetoed a new controversial law limiting the democratic space in the country, the parliament has now pushed it through, triggering wide protests.

Despite the President’s stance against the proposed law after it was approved by Georgia’s parliament earlier this month, and a growing pressure from US and the EU to drop it, the governing party declared that they would persevere.
On 28 May, Georgia’s parliament voted to override the veto from the President on the law obliging any organization receiving more than 20 per cent of their funding from sources outside of Georgia to register as "bearing the interests of a foreign power" became reality. The law, dubbed “foreign agent law” or the “Russia law” by its critic, aims at controlling, even stigmatizing and limiting democratic space for trade unions, civil society and the media. The proposal is reminiscent of a controversial law in Russia.
The law will have a huge impact on workers’ rights as unions are considered as NGOs under Georgian legislation. The main objective of this law is to attack workers’ basic rights and silence trade unions and civil organizations about the violations of rights and interests of workers.
IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie says:

“This is a setback for democratic values in Georgia and will have a massive impact on trade unions. The legislation seriously undermines human and trade unions rights and creates obstacles for the proper functioning of civil society organizations receiving funding from overseas in conducting their legitimate activities in defence of democracy.
“It is a clear barrier to trade unions activities as the solidarity they receive from international and European organizations contributes to conducting trainings, capacity building, providing legal services, and organizing and attending conferences and events."

Says industriAll Europe, general secretary, Jude Kirton-Darling:

“We are very concerned about the adoption of this controversial “foreign agent” law in Georgia which goes against fundamental principles of EU rules of law such as the protection of human rights including by implementing an ambitious human rights strategy and the freedom of assembly and expression. The adoption of this law would be a serious setback to democratic rights. It will torpedo Georgia’s chances of joining the EU bloc, just six months after it was granted candidate status.”