Georgian Parliament Brawl over ‘Spy Bill’…Watch

Parliamentarians Brawl in Georgia's parliament over new 'spy bill'

Members of Georgia’s Parliament fought briefly today over a Bill known as the law ‘on Transparency of Foreign Influence’.

The new legislation, of which there are two drafts before parliament, expects registration of all agencies and individuals such as NGO’s from out-of-state that may influence domestic politics.

The Chair of the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatović,  wrote to the Chair of the Georgian Parliament expressing concerns about the new proposed laws saying…

” The draft law appears to set a separate legal regime for such entities, subjecting
them to additional reporting requirements, inspections and sanctions. I am concerned that such a
legislative initiative presents a number of human rights issues in the light of the Council of Europe
standards in the field of freedom of association and expression. In addition it could have a serious
chilling effect on the work of civil society organisations active in the field of human rights, democracy
and the rule of law in Georgia and I therefore call on the Parliament to reject this or any similar draft

In reply, the Chair of the Georgian Parliament, Shalva Papaushvili, wrote…

“We indeed share a common understanding that any regulation that could affect civil society
organisations shall be based strictly on the principles of democracy and the rule of law.”

there are two draft bills proposed in the Parliament – one is an exact copy of the U.S. Foreign Agents
Registration Act (FARA), and the other is a non-restrictive, liberal version of the FARA.”

“Let me
assure you that parliamentary discussions on the proposed initiatives will be inclusive to find the best
possible modality respecting the balance between freedom of Georgia’s dynamic civil society and
the legitimate causes of transparency, accountability, and security”

Papaushvili went on to say…

“Citizens comprise the core of the civil society and they have a right to be informed on actors that
have impact on their lives. The privilege of having an influence on policy formulation and decision
making comes with responsibility. Indeed, state institutions and political parties have the strictest
constitutional regulations on openness, transparency and accountability recognized by numerous
international organisations and rankings. However, in a sharp comparison, despite the ever increasing engagement and impact of non-commercial organisations (NPOs) on decision making,
there are no workable regulations for NPOs that can provide at least minimum transparency and
accountability, including when it Comes to foreign funding. More Georgia progresses on the EU
membership path, the more important it becomes to realise and respect this shared responsibility in
a good spirit.”

The Chair of the Georgian Parliament closed his reply to the Council of Europe by saying…

“In addition, security-related considerations on money laundering, comrption, terrorism financing
and others deriving from the challenging regional security environment could also be a significant
rationale behind such regulation.”

“Importantly, the draft laws will be sent to the Venice Commission in order to ensure that these
legitimate interests of transparency, accountability, and security are envisaged in the legislation in a
manner that meets international standards.
The parliament of Georgia stands ready to cooperate with international and local matters on this
matter. “

Watch video below…