We, signatories to this statement, express our negative attitude to the legislative initiative on imposing administrative liability for insulting religious feelings of believers which was submitted to the Parliament by the Government of Georgia.
The Parliament of Georgia is reviewing a draft law that assesses public expression of hatred towards sacred religious objects, a religious organization, a clergyman, or a believerby a personwith the aim of insulting religious feelings of believers as an administrative offence and envisages administrative liability for it. We, civil society organizations, believe that the aforementioned legislative initiative does not correspond with the constitutional and international standards and causes a substantive damage to freedom of expression, as well as to the process of the development of a pluralist, liberal, and democratic society in the country.
Unfortunately, procedural requirements were also violated at the time of the review of the aforementioned changes, because the initiated norm was not a part of the initially submitted draft law and was only added to the document during the second hearing. This contradicts the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament and decreases the opportunities of publicity and involvement in the legislative process.
We believe that the legislative entry under review will impose an arbitrary and unjustified restriction on freedom of expression and pose a danger to free public debates in the society.Considering the challenges to the secularity of the State, which require debates on the topic of power and religion and rationalization of social processes, imposing such a restriction is especially unacceptable.
We, the signatory organizations,call onthe Parliament of Georgia not to approve the draft law initiated by the government and, in general, to ensure the publicity and inclusiveness of discussion of particularly important and sensitive issues in the legislative body.
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
Article 42 of the Constitution
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Transparency International – Georgia (TI – Georgia)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Civil Education Fund
Media Development Foundation (MDF)
Network of Information Centers