Defamatory and degrading statements towards human rights defenders by the chair of the human rights committee are alarming
We, the under-signatory member organizations of the Human Rights House Tbilisi, react to degrading and defamatory statements of Sophio Kiladze, Member of the Parliament and chair of the Human Rights and Civic Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, towards the representatives of the human rights defending organization – “Partnership for Human Rights” (PHR) – Ana Arganashvili and Ana Abashidze.
The incident happened during the public meeting organized by the Human Rights and Civic Integration Committee of the Parliament on February 4, 2019. During the meeting, the draft Code on the Rights of the Child was discussed. Representatives of the PHR expressed their opinions with regard to the draft Code and made some critical remarks. Sophio Kiladze responded to their criticism by slandering them and trying to discredit the work of human rights defenders; She called the human rights defenders “politically motivated” and noted that according to her information, they (PHR representatives) were “instructed” to play destructive role during the discussion of the proposed draft Code. She added that she is not listening to the “politically motivated” people and will not accept their criticism.
It is noteworthy, that Sophio Kiladze many times expressed opinions irrelevant to the main principles of human rights that were usually criticized by human rights defenders and activists. It is particularly alarming that instead respectful and inclusive public dialogue, government representatives respond to the criticism of human rights organizations with verbal attacks and smear campaigns.
Unfortunately, in the past period, high-ranking government officials many times tried to discredit human rights organizations and human rights defenders. Aggressive rhetoric of the government creates threats for the activities of independent activists and human rights defenders. In addition to that, Georgia, as the Council of Europe member state, is obliged to respect fundamental freedoms of human rights defenders, including their right to freedom of expression ((Resolution 2225 (2018) of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe).
We call upon the Government and the Parliament of Georgia:
- to create safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders in which they can operate free from hindrance and insecurity;
- to refrain from the discreditation of human rights defenders and condemn any assaults or smear campaigns against human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations;
- the Parliament of Georgia shall condemn the defamatory rhetoric of Sophio Kiladze against human rights defenders and study the violation of the Ethic Code of the Parliament Member, according to which “a Member of the Parliament shall not make defamatory, degrading, sexist, discriminatory statements or activities, or use hate speech”. (Article 3(“o”)).
Human Rights House Tbilisi on behalf of its member organizations:
- Human Rights Center (HRIDC)
- Article 42 of the Constitution
- Media Institute
- Georgian Center for the Psycho-Social and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)