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Transparency International urges Georgian government to withdraw "Transparency of Foreign Influence" law

Transparency International is deeply concerned by the Georgian government’s reintroduction of a draft law on “Transparency of Foreign Influence,” which passed its initial reading on April 17. This decision comes in the wake of a brutal crackdown on protesters in the streets of Tbilisi the night before.

This move significantly undermines democratic principles and the progress made towards enhancing transparency and accountability in the country. It is also a serious setback for civil liberties, media freedom, and the functioning of civil society in Georgia – and a move that could significantly stall the nation’s European integration process. We are also concerned with a rapidly deteriorating environment and seriously shrinking civic space in Georgia with regard to the election-monitoring and watchdog NGOs and critical media outlets.

Transparency International calls on the Georgian government to withdraw this draft law immediately and seize attacks on civil society and the media, including our local Chapter – Transparency International Georgia. It also calls on the government to initiate a constructive dialogue with civil society and international partners to ensure that any new legislation strengthens rather than undermines Georgia’s commitment to transparency and democratic governance.

The proposed legislation seeks to categorise non-governmental organisations and media entities receiving foreign funding as an “organization advocating the interests of a foreign poweragents,” a designation that carries with it a heavy stigma and the potential to discredit and diminish their vital work. Such measures are not only restrictive but detrimental to the democratic discourse and engagement that have been the hallmark of Georgian civil society’s contributions to governance and social progress.

This legislative initiative has drawn serious criticism from international observers, including the EU Member State government representatives, the European Commission, members of the European Parliament and the U.S. Senate and State Department. The U.S. Helsinki Commission has also noted that the law represents a deliberate attack on Georgia’s fragile democracy and is akin to similar oppressive laws in non-democratic regimes.

Immediately after the reintroduction of the law, Georgian citizens took the streets to demonstrate their support for a more open and democratic society. This law mirrors the oppressive legislation adopted in Russia in 2012 and expanded in 2022, which led to designating Transparency International Russia as an “undesirable organisation,” ultimately leading to its closure.

It is crucial that Georgia remains on a path that supports the development of an open society, with robust participation from all stakeholders, ensuring that the country continues to progress towards European integration and the enhancement of its democratic institutions.

François Valérian, Chair of Transparency International, said:

“Georgia's reintroduction of the same law under a different name does not change the underlying intention of undermining civil society’s ability to speak up against abuse of power. We urge the Georgian government to reconsider this regressive path and reaffirm its commitment to the principles of open governance and democratic integrity. The future of Georgia’s democracy and its place within the European community depend on protecting, not persecuting, critical voices.”