Joint Statement of NGOs
The signatory organizations respond to the facts of the media attacks by high-ranking government officials against civil society organizations in the recent period. The comments of the members of the ruling party Mamuka Mdinaradze and Irakli Kobakhidze regarding the income of non-governmental organizations are worrying. In these statements, they also questioned the financial transparency of the organizations. The mentioned accusations lack a legal basis and have a discrediting effect on civilc organizations, as well as threaten the existence of a safe environment for civil and human rights organizations in the country.
According to the statement of the Georgian Dream party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze on September 13, NGOs “ISFED” and “Transparency International – Georgia” have become “political parties” and they will not be able to participate in the working groups created in the parliament.  The media project “Fact-Meter” (FactCheck.ge) of the “Georgian Reforms Association” (GRASS) became the object of groundless accusations as well. This is not the first time when high-ranking government officials harass critical public organizations, including them as “political parties”, scorn them and stop the format of dialogue with them.
Attacks of similar nature on independent public organizations by high-ranking government officials are worrisome. Such statements can be considered as an early signal and a threat to the free environment of civil society organizations in the country. It is necessary to draw parallels and share the experience of other countries, when the “targeting” of certain social or political groups or public organizations is characteristic of authoritarian regimes. A recent trend in such regimes is to attack non-governmental organizations, especially human rights and democratization organizations, control their financial turnover and declare them as “foreign agents”. A similar trend can be observed in Russia, Azerbaijan, Hungary and not only.
According to various international agreements, the government of Georgia has an obligation to support the public organizations operating in the country and their positive role in the protection of human rights and the construction of the rule of law. It is important that non-governmental organizations and other representatives of the civil sector participate in the decision-making process around political and social issues. This kind of hostile attitude towards critical non-governmental organizations from high-ranking government officials hinders the dialogue between civil and public sector even more, which in turn limits the space for civil society.
The signatory organizations request that government officials:
- Stop attacking and harassing non-governmental organizations
- Strengthen the participation of the civil sector, including its critical members, in the decision-making process and conduct a healthy discussion and dialogue with them.
- Ensure the existence of a safe and free environment for the activities of civil organizations and human rights defenders, which is expressed by declaring public support for them, as well as by effective investigation of crimes committed against them.
Human Rights House Tbilisi;
Human Rights Center;
Georgian Center for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT);
Center for Participation and Development;
Georgian Reforms Association (GRASS);
Human Rights Development Fund;
Human Rights Advocacy and Democracy Fund (HRADF);
Open Society Georgia;
Women’s Fund in Georgia;
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI);
Cognitive Center of Georgia;
Media Development Foundation;
Social Justice Center;
Civil Society Institute.
 See: UN Doc: A/ HRC/RES/22/6, OP 5; UN Doc: A/ RES/70/161, OP 4 და OP 21.