Several election watchdog and legal advocacy groups have called on President Saakashvili to veto newly passed amendments to the law on political parties, which tighten regulations for political party funding.
The joint appeal is signed by International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Transparency International Georgia; Open Society Georgia Foundation and newly established Coalition Freedom of Choice.
The groups said in their joint statement, released hours after the legislative amendments were passed by the Parliament on December 28, that two provisions of the new regulations were in conflict with the country’s constitution.
One of the provisions in question is the one which makes new regulations applicable retroactively to the extent that parties having certain amount of money on their accounts at the time of enacting new rules and which are obtained not in line with the new regulations should be returned back to donors. If the funds are not returned within three days after the new regulations enter into force, these donations, remaining on unused and received prior to adoptions of the new legislative amendments, will be transferred into the state ownership.
The groups said in their joint statement, that the provision violates article 42 of the Georgian constitution, which reads: “No one shall be held responsible for an action, which did not constitute an offence at the time it was committed. The law that neither mitigates nor abrogates responsibility shall have no retroactive force.”
Another provision, which the watchdog groups said was “unconstitutional”, is the one, which imposes restrictions established for political parties also for legal entities and individuals who are directly or indirectly related to a political party, as well as on all legal entities and individuals who have business relations or other links with an openly campaigning person; among the restrictions is banning to call for vote for any electoral subjects or to refrain from voting. The watchdog groups said the provision was “unconstitutional”, because it was in essence violating freedom of expression.