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Non-governmental organizations respond to the comment of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA), published on July 14, concerning the arrests made in Mestia on July 7

Four organizations – Human Rights Center, Transparency International Georgia, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and Georgian Young Lawyers' Association are responding to the statement made on July 14 by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

2010-07-16 09:48 See more

Statement by Civil Society Organization in Georgia

During the Spring Session 2010, the Georgian Parliament began discussing the new Tax Code. According to the first part of the draft code, paragraph 308, the income tax rate applied to NGOs (non-governmental organizations) will be increased to 20% beginning January 1, 2011. In accordance with the current Tax Code, the income tax rate applied to income from grants is 12%. It was planned to increase to 18% beginning January 1, 2012 and then decrease to 15% from January 1, 2012. However, the new draft elaborated by the Government of Georgia to move toward the 15% rate was postponed until January 1, 2014. This means that the income tax rate from January 1, 2011 to January 1, 2013 will be 20%; 18% from January 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014; and 15% only after January 1, 2014.Correspondingly, the draft law unexpectedly initiated by the Georgian government considerably increases the tax rate on income received from grants. This unexpected increase in the income tax rate conflicts with previous verbal agreements between the Georgian government and civil society representatives. This tax increase should not be made without consultations with the civil sector. Unfortunately, the new Tax Code was developed behind closed doors. This barred civil society actors from expressing their positions on the tax regime specifically related to non-governmental organizations. The above mentioned non-inclusion approach took away the possibility of civil society actors to participate in a process, which directly relates to non-governmental activities.The new Tax Code seemingly ignores the fact that NGOs are not-for-profit institutions whose income is frequently solely based on grants from donor organizations or foreign governments. These funds, as well as NGO activities, focus on promoting democratic development and providing support to vulnerable groups. In fact, in many cases, the funds serve to provide those services that the state itself is unable to provide the population.In our opinion, the proposed new Tax Code will only impede the activities of non-governmental organizations and is contrary to the interests of donor organizations, namely to spend grant funds on specific services rather than increase spending on personnel. Increased taxation will burden civil society organizations and will inhibit their ability to attract and retain qualified personnel. The current economic environment in Georgia must be taken into consideration. Due to the 2008 August War and the world financial crisis, the challenges have become more acute and as a result the number of vulnerable groups requiring assistance has increased. Consequently, the need to maintain the preferential status for NGOs is even more important now than it was three years ago, when the Georgian government and NGOs agreement on the 12% income tax rate. The NGOs request that the Government of Georgia and the Parliament: •    Extend the terms of the moratorium agreed by the Government of Georgia and civil society for three years; particularly, the tax rate on income received as grants should be kept at the 12% rate through January 1, 2014.•    Increase the tax rate only after three years to a rate established through consultations with the civil sector.  

2010-07-14 14:06 See more

Opposition Leader and Her Three Relatives Arrested in Mestia Special Operation

Opposition Leader and Her Three Relatives Arrested in Mestia Special Operation. 

2010-07-10 16:03 See more

Complaints and Appeals Filed by the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association with the Electoral Administration and Courts

The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association observers filed 39 complaints with the Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi district electoral commissions, 12 complaints with the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), and 10 appeals with the city courts and the Court of Appeals.Of the 39 complaints filed by the organization with the district electoral commissions:

2010-06-18 07:03 See more

Adjudication of Election-Related Complaints and Appeals by Electoral Administration and Courts: Assessment of Nongovernmental Organizations

Transparency International Georgia, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association submitted 154 complaints and appeals to the electoral administration and courts before the 30 May 2010 local elections, on the election day and after the elections. Of these, 27 were upheld in full, 12 were upheld partially and 108 were rejected. In 7 cases, the problem was resolved locally. 

2010-06-17 07:01 See more

Local Observer Organizations Assess Activities of Inter-Agency Task Force

The Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) was established on 13 April 2010. According to the authorities, IATF was formed in order to facilitate the conduct of the 30 May local elections in as transparent and fair an environment as possible by enhancing coordination between different agencies. ITAF was also instructed to engage in active and constructive collaboration with the local and international observer organizations, diplomatic missions and other parties involved in the electoral process.IATF was originally established before the 2008 early presidential election and continued to operate in the run-up to the 2008 early parliamentary elections.The IATF established in 2010 comprises high-ranking officials from the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Regional Development and Infrastructure Ministry, and the National Security Council. The inclusion of these high-level representatives has been among the most positive traits of the group. By doing so, the government ensured the group's greater efficiency, while also demonstrating, once again, that it considered the conduct of the 30 May elections in a free and fair environment to be particularly important.

2010-06-15 12:56 See more

Preliminary Assessment of Voting and Vote Count Procedures in 2010 Local Elections

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association’s preliminary assessment of the voting and vote count procedures in the 30 May 2010 local elections is limited to the Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi electoral districts where GYLA observers monitored the voting, vote count and tabulation procedures in 200 polling stations. At the same time, GYLA’s 30 mobile groups visited more than half of the polling stations in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi.Voters subjected to control while expressing their will: Aside from several exceptions, the voting took place in a generally calm environment on 30 May. However, the control imposed by the ruling party’s activists over the voters’ expression of their will cast a significant shadow over the positive trends that set these elections apart from the 2008 presidential and parliamentary ballots.

2010-05-31 17:28 See more

GYLA publishes the first interim report on the pre-election environment monitoring results

On April 23 GYLA published the first interim report on the pre-election campaign violations.GYLA is observing pre-election environment in Tbilisi and the following regions of Georgia:Adjara, Guria, Imereti, Shida Kartli, Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Tbilisi.

2010-04-23 15:36 See more

GYLA’s Special Statement regarding the Fake Report Broadcasted by Imedi TV on March 13

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association considers that the report broadcasted by Imedi TV on March 13, 08:00pm during Kronika newscast violates the Law of Georgia on broadcasting and the Broadcasters’ Code of Conduct. On 80:00pm Kronika was reporting that the Russian military forces, including its tank battalion, deployed in the occupied region of Akhalgori declared combat readiness; and they would possibly start marching towards the capital; it also reported about the panic in the cities of Georgia, long queues at patrol stations and department stores. The war report continued for 30 minutes, without any caption saying that the report was fake, which caused the audience to believe that the television was broadcasting a real story.

2010-03-14 17:12 See more

Another Case Brought Against the Batumelebi Journalists

On February 4 the Tbilisi City Court refused to satisfy the complaint by journalists Mzia Amaglobeli and Eter Turadze. The applicants claimed the decision on a fine imposed on them at the Sarpi customs checkpoint to be declared void. On August 15, 2009 Eter Turadze and Mzia Amaglobeli legally crossed the Georgian-Turkish border to obtain newspaper materials.Upon their return they passed all customs procedures without any complications; although, as soon as customs officers noticed that journalists were performing their professional activities, they ordered journalists to leave the customs territory, claiming that they were hindering customs procedures. The journalists requested legal grounds for their expulsion from the territory.  Afterward, they were fined for disobeying lawful order of customs officer.

2010-02-05 07:58 See more