CSO Statement: The Government of Georgia is flagrantly violating the Open Government Partnership (OGP) principles - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

CSO Statement: The Government of Georgia is flagrantly violating the Open Government Partnership (OGP) principles

16 May, 2023

The non-governmental organizations involved in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) process in Georgia express our concern regarding the flagrant violation of the fundamental values and principles of OGP by the Government of Georgia. In recent years, the actions of the Georgian government have consistently demonstrated a clear misalignment with the OGP core values by endorsing the Russian-inspired law on "Foreign Agents," undermining the independence of the judicial system, launching direct attacks on civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and critical media representatives, as well as making attempts to restrict their operations, infringing on fundamental freedoms, notably freedom of association and expression, and the right to privacy, restricting access to information.

The national OGP process is stalled for the fourth year already, the country has not implemented a single reform within the framework of the OGP at the national level. Georgia acted contrary to the OGP participation and co-creation standards for two consecutive cycles, by not delivering OGP National Action Plan since 2019. Regrettably, the almost three-year process of developing a new action plan has reached an impasse again. The government again tried to keep the OGP process at the national level pro-forma and refused to implement commitments with a transformational impact (Star Commitments) suggested by civil society. In addition, the head of government publicly attacked civil society, including non-governmental organizations involved in the OGP process.

In light of the above, Georgia’s Open Government Interagency Coordination Council (and Forum) member CSOs addressed the OGP Steering Committee with a Letter of Concern to trigger the Response Policy. The policy seeks to foster a greater engagement of the OGP’s international Secretariat (Support Unit), partner donors, and international organizations in effectively addressing the ongoing crisis.

The signatory organizations urge OGP Steering Committee to call on the Government of Georgia to:

  • Halt the public attacks and smear campaigns on civil society organizations, cease attacks on media representatives, including cases of instrumentalizing judiciary against critical media outlets (media managers, owners, and/or their family members); Ensure that press freedom and the right to receive and impart information is fully realized; Thoroughly investigate and prosecute the organizers of July 2021 mass violence;
  • Remove barriers to accessing public data to the degree that this fundamental right can be enjoyed and advances civil society in fulfilling its watchdog role;
  • Restore the OGP co-creation process wherein a meaningful dialogue between state institutions and CSOs is secured, and commitments in action plans are ambitious in nature and beyond a government’s general practice;
  • Uphold OGP values and principles expressed in the Open Government Declaration and Articles of Governance.

We would like to emphasize that the primary objective of non-governmental organizations is to advance democratic reforms in Georgia and leverage the national OGP process as a strategic platform for designing and implementing transformative reforms.

Civil Society Institute

Economic Policy Research Center

Georgian Democracy Initiative

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association

Green Alternative

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information

Partnership for Road Safety

Social Justice Center

Transparency International Georgia