Oligarchic influence and politicized courts – Georgia in new Freedom House report
Georgia’s Freedom House rating deteriorated again in 2020 compared to previous years: the country scored 60 points out of 100, losing one point since 2019.
In 2018, Georgia’s rating was 64 points.
The country remains on the list of partially free countries, according Freedom House’s report of ‘Freedom in the world – 2021’, published on March 3. It reflects the current state of democracy in the world.
The Freedom House report describes the influence of oligarchs on political processes in Georgia:
“Oligarchic influence negatively affects political decisions and the media environment. At the same time, the judicial system is politicized in the country. Therefore, civil liberties are not protected enough,” the report says.
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As for the elections, according to Freedom House, they are held in a competitive environment in Georgia. Their “democratic trajectory” improved in 2012-2013 with the change of government. However, in recent years, the trend has changed for the worse.
On October 31, 2020, although the ruling Georgian Dream party won the parliamentary elections for a third time in a row, cases of vote buying, threats against voters and obvious errors in the vote count were recorded during the voting.
When evaluating the electoral process, Freedom House also draws attention to the imperfection of the legislation.
Freedom House emphasizes the dominant role of representatives of the ruling party in the CEC and precinct election commissions.
An imperfect judicial system
An imperfect judicial system remains one of Georgia’s main problems, the report says:
“Despite ongoing reforms, the implementation of the law by the judiciary remains a serious problem, as does the lack of transparency in judicial processes and the professionalism of judges.”
Dominance of one party
“Dominance of one party and containment of the development of the opposition” – this is how the organization assesses the process of political pluralism in Georgia.
“Georgia has a multi-party system, and new political parties function mostly without significant obstacles. However, since the 2000s, the dominance of the ruling party has continued, and this prevents normal inter-party competition. “
The authors of the report cite the cases of Georgian bankers Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze as examples:
“In July 2019, Mamuka Khazaradze, the founder of one of the largest Georgian banks TBC, and his partner Badri Japaridze were accused of money laundering. This happened two weeks after they announced the creation of their political party, Lelo for Georgia. She won four seats in the parliamentary elections on October 31, 2020, but the investigation into Khazaradze’s case continued until the elections,” the report says.
The Anti-Discrimination Law, according to the authors of the report, is “applied inadequately”. Women and people with disabilities continue to face discrimination when looking for work, and LGBT individuals are victims of both discrimination and violence.
Transgender people are also not getting the protection they need, according to the Freedom House report.
Best results – internet freedom
Georgia did the strongest under the section of ‘internet freedom’, scoring 76 points out of 100.
In 2020, the level of freedom around the world has been declining, Freedom House concludes.