The Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) expresses its deep concern with efforts to undermine the right of citizens to monitor their own election processes, both through the Georgian Parliament’s consideration of the Russian-style foreign influence law and the constant verbal attacks by government officials on citizen observers – from ISFED, GYLA and TI-Georgia – and the ongoing harassment of civic leaders more broadly. The draft law threatens citizens’ right to peacefully assemble and organize for the benefit of the Georgian people. GNDEM also expresses solidarity with Georgian citizens, civic activists and journalists in the face of government repression while exercising their right of peaceful protest. Its introduction in the midst of the 2024 election is designed to deny Georgian citizens their right to participate in their country’s political affairs by independently assessing the integrity of the process, rendering it less transparent and election stakeholders less accountable.

As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders stated, election observers, including nonpartisan citizen election observers, are human rights defenders who serve to protect civil and political rights of citizens and that “Member States are urged to take all necessary steps to establish conditions that allow national and international election observers to effectively do their work, and to protect them from any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of their rights and freedoms.”

This draft law poses critical risks to the integrity of this electoral process and the rights of citizen election observers. We urge the Georgian Parliament to reject the draft law in its plenary session, and Georgian authorities to hold accountable any officials responsible for the harassment of representatives and staff of GNDEM members ISFED and GYLA, as well as other prominent civic organizations including TI-Georgia. Authorities must adhere to their responsibility to protect human rights defenders in accordance with international law. GNDEM also appeals to international and regional observation missions and institutions to support citizen observers and other human rights defenders in Georgia.

Endorsed by:

European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO)

West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON)

African Election Observers Network (AfEONet)

Civil Network OPORA, Ukraine

Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), Montenegro