Statements - ENEMO condemns law on “foreign agents” and Government repression in Georgia

ENEMO condemns law on “foreign agents” and Government repression in Georgia

10. May. 2024.

The European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) expresses alarming concerns towards recent developments in Georgia regarding the so-called law on “foreign agents”, which closely resembles the Russian so-called “Foreign Agent Law”.

This law plans to suppress civil society’s voice and would have a chilling effect within Georgian society and on democracy itself, at odds with Georgia’s democratic and EU path. The text of the law plans for mandatory registration as an “organization serving the interests of a foreign power” for any civil society organization or media receiving over 20% of its income from abroad, or otherwise face sanctions.

Other countries, including Russia and several CIS countries, have used similar laws as an instrument to silence independent voices, election observers, media representatives, civil society activists, and human rights defenders. The legislation passed in Russia, for instance, was extended to include not only nonprofit organizations, but also media outlets, independent journalists, non-partisan domestic and international election observers, and civil society more broadly. This has led to further stigmatization, repression, pressure on NGOs through their criminalization, and even prosecution of activists. ENEMO strongly condemns the law itself, and calls upon its withdrawal as was previously the case with the draft initiated in 2023.

Moreover, these past days, Georgian law enforcement have violently turned against peaceful protests and rallies, including through the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, and arbitrary detentions of protesters. In light of the repressive actions undertaken, ENEMO urges the Georgian government to immediately stop the crackdown on civil society ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections.

Lastly, ENEMO joins its voice to other international and domestic organizations which have condemned the law and the Government’s actions. International institutions should use all acceptable means of leverage to stop and prevent further actions which hinder the state of democracy in the country, the rights of citizens, and infringe on fundamental human and political rights. 

The European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) is an international network of independent non-partisan CSOs that supports democratic development and citizen’s participation in political processes. It is composed of 22 leading domestic monitoring organizations from 18 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, including three European Union countries. ENEMO was founded on September 29, 2001 in Croatia. All ENEMO members are committed to the principles of non-partisanship, impartiality, transparency, objectiveness and accuracy. ENEMO and its members respect and promote international standards for free and transparent elections, as well as ways and mechanisms for democratic development, engagement and empowerment of citizens.

ENEMO Member Organizations are: Albania - Coalition for Reforms, Integration and Consolidated Institutions (KRIIK Albania), Albania - Society for Democratic Culture (SDC), Armenia - Transparency International Anti-corruption Center (TIAC), Azerbaijan - Election Monitoring and Democratic Studies Center (EMDS), Belarus - Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Centres for Civic Initiatives (CCI), Croatia - GONG, Georgia - International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Kazakhstan - FSCI, Kosovo - Kosova Democratic Institute (KDI), Kyrgyzstan - Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society (SDCS), North Macedonia - Citizens Association MOST, Moldova - Promo-LEX Association, Montenegro - Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), Montenegro - The Centre for Monitoring and Research – CeMI, Poland - The Political Accountability Foundation (PAF), Serbia - Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID), Serbia - Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA), Slovakia - Obcianske OKO, Ukraine - Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), Ukraine - The Civil Network OPORA.