Public Defender’s Statement on Draft Law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence”

The Public Defender of Georgia echoes the re-introduction of the draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" in the Parliament of Georgia and believes that the goal of the mentioned initiative - to increase the transparency of foreign aid intended for Georgia and the accountability of recipient organizations - is a legitimate goal, although it can be achieved without disproportionately interfering with the right to association, which should not be manifested in stigmatizing organizations and undermining the dignity of people.

According to the Public Defender, the above-mentioned legitimate goal can be achieved by making other kind of changes to legislation.

A year ago, similar draft laws were introduced in the Parliament of Georgia, which, based on the Public Defender’s requests of February 24 and March 6, 2023, were evaluated by the OSCE/ODIHR and termed as initiatives incompatible with fundamental human rights.

The Constitution of Georgia states that the constitutional bodies shall take all measures within their powers to ensure the full integration of Georgia into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

This should be paid particular attention, since, in relation to freedom of association and expression, as well as the right to privacy, a similar regulation in legislations of other countries were evaluated negatively by the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the OSCE OfficeforDemocratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Venice Commission and the UN Special Rapporteur.

Accordingly, the Public Defender considers that the Parliament should not adopt any legal act that might endanger the implementation of Georgia's constitutional aspiration.

It is also important to note that since 2020, there has been an eAIMS database in Georgia, which was created as a result of the joint work of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, the Office of the State Minister for Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic Structures, and the Administration of the Government of Georgia. The mentioned database is available on the website to all interested persons. It enables the user to obtain information about all donors, types of funding, projects and thematic areas. On the same portal, through a very easy search system, it is possible to find information on the amount of expenses incurred by organizations.

According to the Public Defender, by making relevant changes to the Law of Georgia on Grants and modifying the above-mentioned eAIMS database, it is possible to easily achieve the legitimate goal of increasing the transparency of foreign aid flows and the accountability of recipient organizations.

Special attention should be paid to the fact that the proposed draft law creates the basis for collecting and making public a large amount of personal data about any person in various relationships (labour or service contract) with organizations, which may violate the right to privacy.

Based on all of the above, the Public Defender of Georgia expresses full readiness to hold additional consultations with the authors of the draft law in order to bring the initiatives into compliance with human rights standards.

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