Statement of Non-Governmental Organizations on the Chamber of Control Decision to classify one of the NGOs as an entity affiliated to the political party

8 Feb, 2012

On February 8, Georgian non-governmental organizations released the statement over the Georgian Chamber of Control’s decision to designate  the non-governmental organization New Generation-New Initiative (nGni) as an entity affiliated to the political party. Based on such classification the Chamber of Control requires the disclosure of the organization’s financial data.

“On February 8, the Georgian Chamber of Control classified the non-governmental organization New Generation – New Initiative (nGnI) as an entity affiliated with a political party by requesting the disclosure of its financial data.

This step clearly illustrates a real threat to civil society activities, which we have highlighted since the adoption of the new Law on Political Unions of Citizens in December 2011.

Article 261 of the Law on Political Unions of Citizens states that party financing regulation cannot not be used to limit civic engagement and freedom of speech. However, the Chamber’s request is evidence that there is a real threat which might be applied to any NGO or citizen.

nGnI has never had any declared political objectives, nor has it supported any political party or candidate. The focus of its work is election monitoring and as a civil society organization, nGnI is also a member of a commission that works on improving voters’ lists, which has been established by a presidential decree.

The Chamber of Control’s action is based on vague and inconsistent criteria in the legislation and is guided by a “presumption of guilt”. Sanctions imposed by the Chamber could eliminate the primary source of income for organizations and pose a threat to any active citizen, non-governmental organization, or media outlet which is monitoring the government’s activities.

We believe that the Chamber of Control’s decision to designate nGnI as an entity affiliated with a political party is groundless and contradictory to the law. It represents an act against civic engagement and perils the work of non-governmental organizations in Georgia.

We demand that:
• The Chamber of Control of Georgia substantiates its request to NGOs and provides for an opportunity to any stakeholder to present its case and to appeal any decision taken;
• The Georgian Parliament immediately initiates changes to the Law on Political Unions of Citizens, in order to ensure the freedom and protection of any civic activities.”