Parliament’s first reading approves bill banning installation of “temporary constructions” during protests

The bill will face two more readings, with the amendments being discussed in a fast-forwarded mode. Photo: Parliament’s press office, 04 Oct 2023 - 18:38, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian Parliament on Wednesday approved amendments in the domestic Law on Assembly and Manifestation banning installation of “temporary constructions” during rallies on specific occasions in the first of three readings. 

The bill received supporting votes of 75 MPs, with 23 voting against and claiming the amendments could pose threats to the right of expression and hamper peaceful demonstrations. 

Proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream party following claims by the country’s State Security Service of an “unrest” being planned by opposition groups this fall, the bill setting up of constructions if they “pose threats to demonstrators or other individuals”, or hamper police efforts to ensure order, work of institutions, organisations or other facilities. 

The amendments also ban installation of constructions if they are not related to a specific rally or demonstration, and notes local authorities would consider each case individually to ensure freedom of assembly and expression. 

Slamming the bill, opposition lawmakers called the amendments “vague” and “targeted against the freedom of assembly and expression”. 

The Georgian State Security Service claimed on September 18 former officials under the United National Movement Government had plans to spark unrest in the country this fall “in coordination and through the funding from abroad”. 

In its latest comments this week, the agency claimed the East-West Management Institute of the United States Agency for International Development programme had funded a training in Tbilisi last month, facilitated by activists from the Serbian-based Canvas organisation, for the potential unrest. 

The bill will face two more readings, with the amendments being discussed in a fast-forwarded mode.