Concerns over Georgia's future given slight decline in democracy score

Freedom House recently released its latest Nations in Transit report for 2018. In regards to the future of Georgian civil society, the report mentions that civil society organisations (CSOs) will continue influencing political processes throughout 2018, but it is unclear whether Georgia’s media, which suffered from political interference and pressure in 2017, will recover this year. 

The authors of the report assert that 2017 was “…a period of slight setbacks for Georgia’s democratic development as the Georgian authorities found it difficult to strike a balance between the contradictory goals of advancing democratization, on the one hand, and consolidating power, on the other". Civil.ge noted that Georgia’s overall democracy score in the report stands at 4.68 points, which is lower than the figure for 2017 (4.61).

Association

Georgian civil society is calling for increased women's public participation, including by supporting a bill for mandatory quotas for women in government. According to Civil.ge, a group of 118 Tbilisi-based and regional organisations expressed their support for the mandatory gender quotas bill calling on the government “to seize this historic opportunity,” and to adopt the draft legislation “in a timely manner”. The CSOs issued an official statement, declaring that while “women account for 52.3% of Georgia’s population, their representation in elected offices remains disproportionately low”.

Peaceful Assembly

OC-Media reported on the Georgian Women’s Movement's march to commemorate International Women’s Day on 8th March. The group is fighting for the rights of transgender women who are victims of harassment. According to the same source, the feminists were met by a homophobic counter rally where eggs were thrown at the Movement's marchers and degrading slogans hurled at them. The aim of the protest was to express solidarity with all transgender women who are not allowed to change their gender category on government-issued IDs. Protestors demanded that the authorities make it easier for transgender people to change the sex indicated on official identity documents.

Protesting against dam construction

Also, OC-Media reported on another protest that took place in Tbilisi over the construction of dams in their regions, which have potential consequences for people's livelihoods and the surrounding environment. Recently, a lot of new construction projects can be seen in the capital city, Tbilisi, and not all of them are being developed with the support of Georgian citizens, even if they are financially supported by some international organisations. It is expected that protests will continue through April. 

Expression

In a recently-released report, the Open Society Georgia Foundation drew attention to several cases of gender, ethnic or religious discrimination, including cases involving free expression in late 2017.