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Public Defender Criticizes Bill Enabling Court to Ban Creative Works

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, May 25
The Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria says that the already submitted draft law, which allows the court to ban some creative works, is “unconstitutional.”

The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) lawmakers, Eka Beselia and Levan Gogichaishvili are the authors of the bill, which provides for the amendments to the Law of Georgia on Culture and the Civil Procedure Code of Georgia and allows a judge to prohibit creative works that stir national, ethnic, religious and racial hatred, preaches war and violence, or propagates pornography.

Lomjaria believes that the legislative package restricts freedom of creativity and is incompatible with the Constitution of Georgia.

“There is a tendency of restricting freedom of expression in the country, which is extremely unfortunate,” the Ombudsman stated.

The Public Defender explains that draft law basically repeats the out-of-date edition of the existing, so-called “dead norm” of the law, which is incompatible with freedom of expression. According to her, at present, no agency is entitled to restrict freedom of creativity based on the abovementioned norm.

“However, the main novelty of the draft law is a formulation of the restriction as a new law and reference to the enforcement mechanism, which makes it applicable in practice,” she added.

Lomjaria claims that the scope of the proposed norm (freedom and independence of creative activity) is quite broad and it applies to all cultural fields and works created in any epoch.

“The draft law envisages the possibility of interference in the creative process and censorship of creative activities, which contradicts the absolute ban established by the Constitution,” she added.

The Public Defender calls on the Parliament of Georgia not to adopt the draft law in the given form and considers that it is necessary to make the some amendments to it in order to ensure its compliance with the Constitution.

The draft author, Eka Beselia, said the amendments do not impose any censorship, adding this record is not new.

“The Constitution states that censorship is not allowed in creative work. If the Court does not say that this right may be restricted, no one can prohibit any creative works,” she said.

The Non-Governmental Organizations stress the draft aims at restricting freedom of expression. They believe the draft law, in its current form, contradicts the fundamental principles of human rights and threatens the freedom of expression and creativity, especially works of art and literature.