Political leaders in Georgia must stop slandering human rights NGOs

Members and partners of the Human Rights House Network and the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders call upon political leaders in Georgia to stop slandering non-governmental organisations with unfounded accusations and suggestions that their work would harm the country. Since October 2013, public verbal attacks against human rights organisations by leading political figures in Georgia have increased. The situation is starting to resemble to an anti-civil society campaign.

On 7 April 2015, following a number of incidents of public slandering of NGOs, NGOs from 11 Human Rights Houses wrote to President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and David Usupashvili, Chairperson of the Georgian Parliament.

The repeated verbal attacks against NGOs by political leadership hamper the expressed willingness of the government to have inclusive and respectful public debates.

The NGOs call upon the Government and the Parliament to create a safe and enabling environment in which human rights defenders can operate free from hindrance and insecurity, in accordance with the Human Rights Council resolution 22/6, paragraph 12. The Government should condemn any signs of smear campaign against human rights defenders and their NGOs.

The NGOs further call upon the President, the Prime Minister and the Chairperson, to refrain from engaging in smear campaigns against civil society organisations and to use the symbolic and the political weight of their offices to express public support for the important role of human rights defenders and the legitimacy of their work, in line with the Human Rights Council resolution 22/6, paragraph 18, as well as the importance of their contribution to the public debate, even if they disagree with it.

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