TBILISI, DFWatch – Most newspapers in the former Soviet republic of Georgia today publish a petition which protests controversial changes to a law about party financing.
When the law on Political Associations of Citizens was changed in December 2011, it caused a strong reaction from the Georgian civil sector, which claims it is a violation of freedom of speech, freedom of the media and democracy.
Today’s petition is part of a campaign by groups and media representatives, called “It affects you too”, aimed at fighting against the threat they say the law poses to the country and the danger it represents to each person.
“We, representatives of non-governmental organizations and the media, realize the importance of fair and free elections, consider the legislative changes regarding this issue adopted in the December 2011 categorically unacceptable, [changes] which: restrict civil activism, property rights, freedom of speech and political activity, hinders the country’s democratic development, applies difficult and unjust obligation to the voter; grants undefined and non-constitutional authority to the main controller of party financing, the Georgian Chamber of Control, creates serious dangers for each citizen, as well as for civil society, including the media; worsens the election environment in the country.
Therefore, we demand to amend the electoral legislation,” the petition says.
The new law amendments imposes a whole number of restrictions on political parties and persons, and extends those restrictions to legal and physical persons who are directly or indirectly related to some political party.
In fact, the law makes it impossible for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to receive financing from donors, because each contribution or gift or small amount of money can be considered a bribe, according to the groups and experts involved in the campaign “It affects you too”.