UN rights chief: Georgia ‘foreign agents’ law undermines freedom of expression News
Harrison Keely, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
UN rights chief: Georgia ‘foreign agents’ law undermines freedom of expression

UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk stated on Wednesday that Georgia’s newly passed foreign agents bill “undermines the freedoms of expression and association.”

Türk mentioned his concern regarding the possible effects of this bill being signed by the President of Georgia: “The ability of associations to seek, secure and use resources is essential to their effective operation. This overbroad law risks these organisations being labelled and stigmatised, and having to face an atmosphere of mistrust, fear and hostility.”

This bill stipulates that NGOs and media organizations receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad must be formally registered as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power.” This, according to Türk, will undermine and curtail the rights of freedom of expression and association in Georgia. UN human rights organs argue that Georgian lawmakers have disregarded the warnings of human rights defenders and civil society organizations. This is considering the same bill was withdrawn in March 2023, and government officials and parliamentarians assured UN organs that the draft would not be reintroduced.

The foreign agents bill, entitled the “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence” still needs the signature of Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, who vowed during a CNN interview to veto it. However, the ruling party has a majority in parliament and can override the president’s veto to enact the legislation.