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Gigi Tsereteli’s Position is Against Freedom of Expression – NGOs

31.05.2012
Article 42 of the Constitution considers the statement by Gigi Tsereteli, the Deputy Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia as discriminative and restricting freedom of expression. According to Gigi Tsereteli civil servants should not be taking part in the rallies.

“If the individuals employed at state structures are supporting opposition and are taking part in their manifestations they should be dismissed,” said Gigi Tsereteli on May 28. He thereby clarified: “It’s same as taking part in the rally organized against your office. If civil servants are taking part in the opposition rallies and are fighting against the authorities then their dismissal is a natural thing. A civil servant should not be going to the opposition rallies.”

Article 42 of the Constitution believes that this kind of statement voiced by the political official is being perceived as a direct pressure upon civil servants, restricting freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution.

The organization thinks this kind of attitude is unacceptable in a democracy. Public officials should be bearing high responsibility when making speeches and should refrain from making discriminative statements so that their position were not perceived as pressure restricting civil servants’ freedom of expression in fear for losing their jobs.

Tamar Chugoshvili, Chairwoman of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) thinks likewise. Reporting to the Georgian daily Rezonansi she said a civil servant can appear at any rally and no one can deprive him/her of this right. According to the Constitution and the legislation everyone is free to express his/her opinion and political belief. Restriction of the freedoms is impermissible. We know and we witnessed civil servants’ mass involvement in agitation during previous elections. As a rule it was the agitation in favor of the ruling team,” said Chugoshvili and clarified “if government representatives think a public servant should be occupied with just agitation to the benefit of the ruling team they are very much mistaken. The representatives of law enforcement agencies are the only ones being restricted participation in assemblies and manifestations.” Public Defender and the Chairman of the Chamber of Control also fall within this restriction, says GYLA’s chairperson. The rest of civil servants are free to express their opinion this way. Therefore the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia and the majority members are to provide clarification to Gigi Tsereteli’s statement.

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