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UN rights chief urges Georgia to scrap ‘foreign influence’ bill

Thousands of people have taken to the streets for days to protest the draft Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence, which would require media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving more than 20 per cent of funding from abroad to register as “organizations acting in the interest of a foreign power”. 

Respect human rights 

Mr. Türk voiced concern over reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against demonstrators and media personnel in the capital, Tbilisi, this week. 

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He urged the authorities to fully respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. 

Any restrictions to these rights must abide by principles of legality, necessity and proportionality. The use of force during protests should always be exceptional and a measure of last resort when facing an imminent threat,” he said.

Investigate abuses, drop charges 

Mr. Türk called on the authorities to conduct prompt and transparent investigations into all allegations of ill-treatment during or after protests or in detention.  

“All those who were detained arbitrarily for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must be released immediately. Charges against them must also be dropped,” he said. 

At the same, he appealed for demonstrators and protest organizers to exercise their rights peacefully and not to resort to violence. 

The UN rights chief called on the authorities to withdraw the draft law and engage in dialogue, including with civil society and media organizations.

“Labelling NGOs and media outlets receiving foreign funding as ‘organizations acting in the interest of a foreign power’ poses serious threats to the rights to freedom of expression and association,” he said. 

 

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