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Council of Religions: Address to the Parliament of Georgia

We, the members of the Council of Religions, under the auspices of the Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia, would like to express our concern about the restrictions of freedom of belief, conscience, and religion, envisaged by the new draft of the amendments to be added in the Georgian Constitution.

 

It has become evident that the Parliament of Georgia, in the draft formulated during the second hearing, added and widened the bases for interference in and restriction of the protected area of freedom of religion. While the current constitution only considers the restriction of freedom of religion with the aim of protecting the rights of others, the new draft has such additions to the possible reasons for interference as the ensuring state security, prevention of crime, protection of health, and implementation of justice.

 

We believe that the added criteria present a new risk for the unjustified restriction of religious freedom. The addition of causes such as state security, prevention of crime, and implementation of justice raises utmost concern. The abovementioned criteria are not easily foreseeable and create a high risk for their misuse in pursuing aims unlike those necessary for the existence of a legitimate and democratic state.

 

It should be underlined that these types of reasons for the restriction of religious freedom are not permitted by the European Convention for Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the absolute majority of European constitutions.

 

When discussing the threats of restricting freedom of religion and belief, the long-standing challenges and barriers are being considered, which a large part of religious communities have often come across in Georgia. We have been victims of abuse, intolerance and confrontations while practicing religion. In case the abovementioned vague and unpredictable causes are added to the supreme law of the country, we may be faced with the legitimation of unjustified restriction of religious freedom on the basis of the Constitution.

 

We call upon the Parliament of Georgia to disallow the deterioration of human rights’ protection standard and not to act in support of violation of religious freedom -  one of the most important cornerstones of the democratic state.

 

The members of the Council of Religions under the auspices of the Public Defender of Georgia:

 

  • South Caucasus Apostolic Administration of Latin Rite Catholics
  • Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church
  • Spiritual Council of Yezidis
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Pentecostal Church
  • Evangelic Baptist Church
  • Armenian Catholic Church
  • Georgian Muslims Union
  • Supreme Religious Administration of Muslims of All Georgia
  • Seventh Day Adventist Church
  • Evangelical Church -  Word of Life
  • The Salvation Army International Organization
  • Holy Trinity Protestant Church
  • Evangelical Church – Firm Foundation
  • Swedenborgian Community
  • Friends’ Society – Quakers
  • Society of Krishna Consciousness
  • The Redeemed Christian Church of God  
  • Protestant Church “Christ’s Church” 

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