DRI: The authorities grossly restrict freedom of assembly and expression
The Democracy Research Institute echoes the detention of protestors and representatives of the media in the vicinity of the Parliament of Georgia on March 2, 2023.

On March 2, representatives of the media and civil society organizations, as well as civil activists, protested against the consideration of the draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" initiated by the parliamentary majority. As a result of publicly released sources and on-site observation, it became clear that the law enforcement officers grossly violated and disproportionately limited the right to assembly and expression guaranteed by legislation of Georgia - the detention of protestors and representatives of the media began after the participants in the assembly moved to the street nearby the legislative body and announced the arrangement of a corridor of shame for the representatives of the ruling political force.

According to the DRI's assessment, the behavior of the demonstrators did not exceed the limits established by law. The use of the radical measure of detention by the law enforcement officers for the restriction of rights (20 people were reportedly detained for administrative offences) and recent developments, including the detention of a number of journalists representing opposition media outlets, should be evaluated in a broader picture of the struggle ongoing against freedom of expression.

During the day, the right of representatives of non-governmental organizations and the media to enter the legislative body was restricted. The entry permits issued for citizens were also canceled. However, by the decision of the Parliament, supporters of the draft law were allowed to attend the committee session without any hindrance, whereas representatives of civil society organizations and independent media outlets, which are the direct addressees of the repressive draft law, were not allowed to enter the committee session hall.

The Democracy Research Institute calls on:

The Parliament of Georgia

  • To refuse to consider the law on agents of foreign influence.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs

  • To remain within the legal framework and protect freedom of assembly and expression.
  • To refuse the deliberate interference with the smooth implementation of journalistic activities.
 The Special Investigation Service

  • To immediately study and appropriately respond to the detention of journalists and participants in the assembly in the vicinity of the Parliament of Georgia on March 2, 2023, and to check the legal basis and legality of the behavior of the law enforcement officers.