Public Defender Echoes Limitation of Publicity at Tbilisi City Council Session

Tbilisi City Council is discussing the issue of alienation of the municipality property for a symbolic price on October 10, 2017. According to the reports, it is planned to locate Panorama Tbilisi facility in the mentioned area. As there is a high public interest towards this issue, the Public Defender has decided to study the issue on his own initiative.

The Chairman of Tbilisi City Council disseminated a statement earlier today, which said that today's session would be attended only by City Council members, staff members and journalists. The reason for this, according to the statement, was the events developed at the previous session and outside the City Council building. The Public Defender considers that it is inadmissible to close a session in advance by referring to possible future threat. If any attendee violates the requirements of the law, naturally, measures envisaged by the law should be taken personally against him/her. However, generally, it is unjustifiable to restrict the publicity of the City Council session by referring to some hypothetical threat.

It should be noted that according to the law, the City Council session is public and all interested persons have the right to attend it.[1] The reason for closing a session is not clear in the given case. At the same time, the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia provide for additional guarantees and stipulate that MPs have the right to "take part in the meetings of the national and local governmental agencies with the right to a deliberative vote and raise issues of violation of laws and other acts."[2]

The City Council session is being observed by a representative of the Public Defender. At the same time, the Public Defender's Office is monitoring the demonstrations outside the City Council building. The monitoring showed that police officers, mobilized around the building, do not allow MPs and other interested persons to enter the building that is a blatant violation of the law. The Public Defender urges Tbilisi City Council to immediately ensure publicity of the session and allow MPs, and all stakeholders as much as possible, to attend the City Council session.

[1] Article 32 of the General Administrative Code of Georgia, paragraph 1 of article 57 of the regulations of Tbilisi City Council.

[2] Subparagraph a of paragraph 3 of Article 6 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Georgia.

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