Transparency International is alarmed by and calls against the adoption of a proposed new law that would require non-profit organisations receiving foreign funding to register as “foreign agents” in Georgia. If approved, the legislation would have a serious negative impact on the already shrinking space for civil society and independent media in the country. It would also undermine future progress against corruption in Georgia.
The draft law “On the Transparency of Foreign Influence” was recently presented by a group of parliamentarians aligned with the ruling party, who have stated the need to “uncover” the agents of foreign influence in the country. It mirrors the oppressive legislation adopted in Russia in 2012 and expanded in 2022, which continues to be strongly condemned by the international community. Over 350 non-governmental organisations – including Transparency International Georgia – have denounced the proposed law , highlighting how its passage would hurt not only them but the vulnerable populations that they serve.
Despite wide protest, leaders from the ruling party have now voiced their support for the bill, continuing to retaliate against independent actors. Most recently, upon the release of Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), government representatives attacked our Georgian chapter for speaking out against high-level corruption and state capture. Transparency International highlighted the same concerns when listing Georgia as a country to watch on the 2022 CPI.
The proposal to label civil society and media organisations receiving foreign funding as “foreign agents” is also at odds with the Georgian government’s stated EU aspirations. Decisive action against high-level corruption, strengthening protections for journalists and enabling civil society’s meaningful participation in decision-making are among the conditions Georgia needs to meet to achieve EU candidacy.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International, said:
“A vibrant civil society is one of Georgia’s greatest assets. The proposed legislation is not about transparency but about labelling and demonising independent civil society. If passed, it will also derail future progress in a wide range of areas, including anti-corruption.”