The Democracy Research Institute Requests Declassification of the National Strategy of Georgia on Fight Against Terrorism Action Plan
On May 29, 2019, Democracy Research Institute (DRI) addressed the Government of Georgia in writing, requesting the 2019-2021 action plan of the National Strategy of Georgia on Fight Against Terrorism, approved on January 23, 2019.
According to the response letter from the Government’s Chancellery (received on June 5, 2019), the action plan is not a public document and therefore access to it is restricted.
Due to the public interest in publicizing the Action Plan, on September 18, 2019, the Democracy Research Institute submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister of Georgia to completely or partially declassify the Action Plan in accordance with the rules established by the Georgian legislation. Since DRI did not receive a response to this letter even after the statutory deadline expired, on November 15, 2019, the Democracy Research Institute filed a lawsuit against the Government of Georgia in Tbilisi City Court with the request to partially or completely declassify the action plan.
For prevention and information collection purposes, the National Strategy of Georgia on Fight Against Terrorism declares cooperation with the civil society, academia and NGOs as one of the key priorities. The Democracy Research Institute states that without acquiring mentioned action plan (or part thereof) of the strategy, it will be impossible to review possible areas of cooperation and plan relevant projects, which would also undermine the objectives of the National Strategy of Georgia on Fight Against Terrorismand raise questions whether the relevant authorities really want to to put this document into practice.
Despite the specific provisions in the National Strategy of Georgia on Fight Against Terrorismthere is minimal state preparedness to prevent and analyze the spread of extremist and radical ideology narratives. There is no functioning program in this direction. In addition, the only document with detailed description of possible ways of active involvement of academic circles, NGOs and the rest of society in combating the spread of extremism and radical ideology, is classified. Unfounded secrecy of the document is preventing all concerned NGOs and the whole of society from participating in the fight against the spread of extremism and radical ideology and from cooperating with relevant structures.
Like in the EU member states, relevant legislative acts in Georgia recognize the importance of cooperation with civil society for the purposes of preventing radicalization and extremism. In this regard, only the creation of a proper normative base is not sufficient. The involvement of the general public in preventing and analyzing the spread of extremism and radical ideology is not possible without at least ensuring public access to the document thatsets out the framework for such cooperation.