What is the procedure for recalling foreign agents bill in Georgia - comment by a lawyer
Foreign agents bill recalled in Georgia
The parliamentary majority of the ruling party “Georgian Dream”, under pressure from mass protests of citizens, decided to withdraw the draft law “On Agents of Foreign Influence” adopted in the first reading.
The ruling party’s statement was released on the morning of March 9. It says that the party is withdrawing the bill without any reservations.
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JAMnews asked lawyer Levan Alapishvili what needs to happen so that this bill is not returned to consideration.
In short, what Alafishvili said:
When a bill is passed in the first reading, it is technically impossible to recall it. In order for the draft law passed in the first reading to be considered as truly drafted, the following must happen:
● To recall both draft laws from the Venice Commission
● Urgently pass the second reading at the committee and plenary session and vote against it.
Levan Alapishvili: “According to the procedure established by the parliament’s regulations, if the bill has already been adopted in the first reading, then it is not subject to withdrawal. To do this, it must be put to a vote in the second reading and rejected after its results.
So one application for withdrawal is not enough, as this will not stop the legislative process. It will be activated, the parliament will have the opportunity to pass the bill very quietly, whether at the end of the spring session or during the autumn session, in the second and third readings.
Part 3 of Article 101 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament says in black and white that the initiators can withdraw the bill only before it starts its consideration in the first reading. However, the law “on foreign agents” has already been adopted in the first reading. And this is no longer the “property” of the authors alone, it is already the “property” of 76 parliamentarians who voted “for”.
As for the second bill, the Georgian analogue of the American law (FARA), it is not mentioned in the statement. They allegedly forgot about him.
In order to eliminate the danger of its revision and its existence in general, it can just be legally withdrawn, because it has not yet been adopted in the first reading.
Joy in connection with the statement of the ruling party about the withdrawal of the bill “On the transparency of foreign influence” in social networks began to give way to skepticism. People write that the ruling party is known for not keeping its promises, so until there is a legally formalized decision, the authors of the statement cannot be trusted.
In the recent history of the Georgian Dream, there are indeed cases when the ruling party did not fulfill its promises at the international level.
Case #1 – On June 20, 2019, mass protests began in Georgia, known as “Gavrilov’s night”. The reason for the demonstrations was the invitation of a member of the Russian parliament, Sergei Gavrilov, to the Georgian parliament. As a result, one of the main demands of the protesters was the reform of the electoral system – so that the elections scheduled for 22020 would be held entirely according to the proportional system.
On June 24, the informal ruler of the country and the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, decided to satisfy this demand – he personally promised the citizens that the 2020 parliamentary elections would be held according to the proportional system.
Within two months, the parliamentary majority amended the constitution. This proposal by Ivanishvili was not supported by majoritarian candidates. Now they are the core of the Force of the People movement, which broke away from the ruling party and initiated two versions of the scandalous draft law “on foreign agents”.
Case #2 – Georgian Dream also violated the so-called Charles Michel agreement. According to the document, the opposition and the right were supposed to cooperate in the implementation of judicial, electoral and other reforms and overcome the political crisis that arose after the 2020 elections.
Georgian Dream signed this agreement, but three months later, the chairman of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, announced that the country’s leadership was withdrawing from this agreement.
Tens of thousands of people gathered on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi for two days in a row to protest against the draft law on agents of foreign influence, which was adopted by parliament in the first reading on March 7 with 76 votes in favor and 13 against.
The overwhelming majority in society, as well as foreign partners, call this law “Russian law”, which completely repeats the repressive law on foreign agents in force in the Russian Federation, and believe that its adoption will become a serious obstacle for the country on the way to the European Union.
For two days, special forces dispersed large-scale protests with water cannons and tear gas. There were arrests. At the rally on March 7, the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained 60 people on charges of petty hooliganism and resistance to the police.