NGOs and Media Organizations Respond to David Bakradze
For the past several days ruling party representatives have stated their willingness to review the election legislation in order to define existing provisions more accurately. In particular, a provision will be added that will clearly state that the legislation does not impose any restrictions on “legitimate activities” of those non-governmental organizations and donors that focus on the development of parties.
We welcome the willingness of Parliament of Georgia to change the ambiguous and problematic legislation, however, we would like to reiterate our stance on this issue.
The legislative proposals submitted by NGOs to Parliament are not only aimed at avoiding restrictions on the activities of NGOs and international organizations. Proposed changes aim to improve the election environment, create equal conditions for political parties to run their election campaign, make sure that rights and freedoms of citizens and organizations (including entrepreneurs) guaranteed by the Constitution are respected.
The key requirements of the legislative proposals drafted by the NGOs are as follows:
- To abolish criminal liabilities of a voter and make either a party or legal entity fully responsible for bribing voters;
- To reduce the scope of the persons that may be subject to restrictions imposed on the party. To extend these restrictions to only those persons that have announced their election goals and will spend funds to achieve these goals;
- To set limits on the activities of the Chamber of Control in order to prevent the latter from making free manipulations;
- To describe in detail the rules of seizing property, the right of which has been assigned to the Chamber of Control. To define the role of the court in the process to avoid seizing property without its involvement;
- To decrease unreasonable restrictions imposed on the parties and other persons.
We would like to emphasize once again that in order to provide fair election environment and equal conditions, it is important to change a number of other provisions as well, including regulations of the Election Code. Moreover, it is necessary to invite a long-term mission of international observers in order to involve reputable international organizations in the process of the evaluation and monitoring of the election environment and give political parties an equal opportunity to plan and implement their campaign. In order to concentrate public efforts we think we should focus on most troublesome issues, however, we will keep on working on other questions relating to the improvement of the election environment.
The package of legislative proposals was submitted to Parliament on February 17, 2012 by four NGOs – Transparency International Georgia, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and the Coalition for Freedom of Choice.