DRI: It is not possible to withdraw a draft law passed in one reading at the plenary session
The Democracy Research Institute echoes the joint statement issued by the Georgian Dream political council and the parliamentary majority on March 9 regarding the withdrawal of the draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence". The statement says nothing about the ruling party’s decision regarding the second draft law on "Registration of Foreign Agents".
Despite the statement made by the Executive Secretary of the ruling party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, that the draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" would be discussed on March 9, the Parliament of Georgia considered the draft law in the first reading at the plenary session on March 7 and passed it with 76 votes, which caused mass protests. The Government's use of disproportionate force and unjustified arrests made the protest more massive.
On March 8, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia applied to the Venice Commission with a request to prepare a legal opinion on the draft laws on "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" and "Registration of Foreign Agents". On the night of March 8-9, the police again used water cannon, tear gas and pepper spray against peaceful demonstrators. However, demonstrators did not leave the area until dawn. On March 9, the ruling party released a statement, saying that they had decided to withdraw the draft law "unconditionally, without any reservation".
According to the Democracy Research Institute, taking into account that the concessions made by the ruling party based on public protests have been subject to revision several times, the "withdrawal" of only one of the two draft laws supported by Georgian Dream at the committee hearings can serve to gain time.
The draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" has already been adopted in the first reading. The Rules of Procedures of the Parliament of Georgia do not recognize the possibility of withdrawing a draft law adopted in the first reading.
It is also significant that the ruling party did not say anything about the "withdrawal" of the second draft law, which was not considered at the March 7 session, whereas procedurally this draft law can be withdrawn more easily. According to the Rules of Procedures of the Parliament of Georgia, "In case of the initiation of a bill by two or more Members of Parliament, the bill shall be considered withdrawn from the Parliament based on the joint written request of all the Members of Parliament who initiated it."
That is why DRI calls on the ruling political power and all the MPs who voted for the draft law to:
- Follow the procedures established by the Rules of Procedures of the Parliament of Georgia regarding the withdrawal of the draft law. The draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" should be discussed but not supported at the plenary session;
- Immediately recall the second draft law on "Agents of Foreign Influence", based on the joint written request of all the initiators;
- Withdraw both draft laws from the Venice Commission, with the appropriate explanation;
- Refrain from spreading misleading statements.
According to clauses 3 and 4 of Article 101 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia, "The initiator of the draft law has the right, with proper motivation, to withdraw a draft law before its adoption in the first reading at the plenary session of the Parliament."