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Georgia: Lifting of veto on law against “foreign influence” a “tragic day for the country”

Responding to the Georgian parliament’s decision to override the president’s veto of the “foreign influence” law while a senior police officer openly threatened peaceful protesters, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“The vote to override the President's veto clearly shows how confident and reckless the Georgian authorities are in their determination to suppress independent civil society in Georgia – it is a tragic day for the country. This evil law must be repealed immediately as it directly violates the right to freedom of association. The government must end its campaign of intimidation and violence against Georgian civil society and against those who oppose this law through protests and other peaceful means.

This evil law must be abolished immediately as it directly violates the right to freedom of association.

Marie Struthers, Amnesty International Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“The world is watching this spiteful move and the government's violent intentions towards peaceful protesters. The recent revelations of orders from the highest levels to the police to beat protesters on a 'list' are as shocking as they are self-incriminating. The government's brazen campaign against human rights in Georgia must end immediately.”

background

Tensions between protesters and the Georgian government escalated on May 28-29, when the ruling Georgian Dream party used its parliamentary majority to override the president's veto of the controversial “foreign influence” law. On the same day, Zviad Kharazishvili, the head of the National Police's Special Tasks Department, acknowledged in a televised report that his force was prepared to use unlimited force against protesters and that there was a “list” of protesters who would be specifically targeted by the police. A large crowd of protesters gathered outside the parliament building while police sealed off the building and its entrances.

Georgian authorities have used intimidation tactics against opponents of the law, including threats, smear campaigns, illegal use of force by police, arbitrary arrests, beatings, and other forms of ill-treatment in custody. Dozens of peaceful protesters have been fined simply for participating in the protests, while there has been no accountability for the unlawful use of force by police on the streets.

Anna Harden

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