By Guest Nicole
The annual report by the Council of Europe assessing the execution rate of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights points to 36 judgments involving Georgia which have yet to be executed. The report calls on Georgia to accelerate the execution process, as it is “imperative for the insurance of human rights.Â”
The Council of EuropeÂ’s Committee of Ministers is responsible for monitoring the implementation, or Â“execution,Â” of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights and publishes an annual report with the results for each European country.
The monitored cases are classified into different categories to allow for ease of understanding. All cases are classified as either Â“leadingÂ” or Â“repetitive.Â” Leading cases are those revealing new structural and/or systemic problems, whereas repetitive cases relate to issues that have already been raised before the Committee.
Georgia was involved in 10 new cases in 2017, a light increase from 2016 with its 7 new cases. Of these 10 cases, three were leading cases, and seven were repetitive. Countries often lack behind in the implementation process for years, trying to avoid necessary measures or pointing to an unfavorable situation to implement legislative amendments. In 2016, Georgia still had 39 pending cases to implement, decreasing slightly to 36 last year, out of which 23 are repetitive and 13 leading.
The Committee selected six pending cases to be under enhanced supervision, which is a supervision procedure for cases requiring urgent individual measures, pilot judgments, and judgments revealing important structural and/or complex problems as identified by the Court.
Presently, Georgia has five such pending cases, which have been awaiting execution for more than five years. With regards to monetary compensation, also called Â“just satisfaction,Â” Georgia awarded Â€120,151 in 2017, almost twice less than in 2016 (Â€221,000). However, the State itself is tasked with payment to the victims, which rarely takes place in a timely manner. In 2017, Georgia respected the payment deadline in eight cases, while for four cases, the payment was still pending past the set deadline.
The report highlights two main pending cases, which it urges the government to implement due to their importance regarding human rights. The first case is Tsintsabadze vs Georgia, dealing with the lack of effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment or violations of the right to life. Although the monitoring team observed improvements, they continue to monitor the case.
The second case is Identoba et.al. vs Georgia, dealing with the lack of protection against homophobic attacks during a demonstration. Touching again the issue of the first case, as adequate investigation procedures were missing also for this case, the European CourtÂ’s judgment points to a Â“Failure to adequately protect against inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted by private individuals to LGBT activists (in May 2012) and JehovahÂ’s Witnesses (in 1999-2001) during marches or meetings.Â” Following the broad scope of the judgment, this case deals with the freedom of religion and the freedom of assembly and association.
Furthermore, the report highlights essential improvements undertaken by the government with regard to closed cases. The Committee closed the Gharibashvili vs Georgia case, as the effectiveness of investigations was improved through the better involvement of the victims in the investigation, new rules for witness interrogation, and reinforced institutional independence for investigating bodies. In addition, the prevention of excessive use of force by the police in the course of arrest and ill-treatment in custody has been improved, notably through the creation of internal monitoring mechanisms in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Corrections.
Monitoring legal improvement and law amendments, the Committee praises Georgia for the law Â“On Common Courts,Â” foreseeing that all judicial acts, including the operative part of decisions adopted, will be published on the website, thus increasing transparency. In conjunction with these measures, numerous training and awareness-raising measures have been undertaken.
Besides the assessment of improvements based on specific cases, the report highlights general advances in the field of human rights and safety. The power of bailiffs to arrest individuals is better circumscribed, and guarantees for the holding of a public hearing and respect for the equality of arms have been adopted. The possibility for detained persons to obtain compensation for their illegal or unjustified detention is ensured, independently of conviction or acquittal.
Rehabilitating GeorgiaÂ’s past, legislative amendments were adopted in 2011 and 2014 in order to grant compensation to the victims of Soviet-era repression. Improvements have also been observed in the electoral law.
Clear criteria were introduced to define when the Central Electoral Commission can use its power to invalidate elections, alongside the introduction of an effective remedy against its decisions.
On a European level, the countries with the highest total number of pending cases at the end of 2017 were Russia (1,689), Turkey (1,446), Ukraine (1,156), Romania (553) and Italy (389). Of the 7,584 pending cases at the end of 2017, 1,379 (18%) were leading cases and 6,205 (82%) were repetitive cases. The countries with the highest number of leading cases pending at the end of 2017 were Russia (216), Turkey (177), Ukraine (136), Bulgaria (77) and Moldova (76). The countries with the highest number of repetitive cases pending at the end of 2017 were Russia (1,473), Turkey (1,269), Ukraine (1,020), Romania (495) and Italy (335). A strong decrease in pending cases could also be observed on a European level, as 3,849 pending cases were under enhanced supervision at the end of 2017, down from 6,718 at the end of 2014 (a drop of 43%).
Although Russia tops the statistics in pending cases, they strongly lag behind resolving or implementing them, surpassed by Italy and Hungary. The countries that closed the highest total number of cases in 2017 were Italy (2,001), Hungary (296), Russia (254), Romania (144) and Poland (133).
In 2017, the court awarded Â€14.6m in Â“just satisfactionÂ” against Russia, Â€12.5m against Italy, Â€11.6m against Turkey, Â€5.9m against the Slovak Republic and Â€3.7m against Greece. The total figure is Â€60.4m compared to Â€82.3m in 2016.
via .ORGWorld News
Our regional assembly today August 25-27,2017 in Georgia international Convention Center.(College park Atlanta).By Guest Nicole
By @Saint-Jacques Pierre Cheelton
By Abel Castro
Corte Europeia defende o direito religioso das Testemunhas de Jeová na Geórgia
Este último julgamento da CEDH protege o direito de se reunir para adorar a Deus livremente e de compartilhar crenças religiosas de modo pacífico com outros.
“Horrifying” is how witnesses have described the latest in a string of executions in the American state of Arkansas. Convicted murderer Kenneth Williams was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Here’s what happened during his execution according to a reporter there.
Ed Wilson’s daughter, Judy Kriby, files his nails.
By Guest Nicole
Tomorrow, human righs judges will announce their decision in a complaint against Georgia brought by 13 Jehova’s Witnesses.
Tsartsidze and Others v. Georgia (no. 18766/04)
The applicants are 13 Georgian nationals who are all Jehovah’s Witnesses. The case concerns alleged harassment of Jehovah’s witnesses in Georgia.
The applicants submit that in 2000 and 2001 they had been the victims of various instances of intimidation and aggression towards Jehovah’s Witnesses either by Orthodox religious extremists or by the authorities, including the police.
In five separate incidents some had been prevented from attending a religious meeting when stopped at a police checkpoint and others had had their religious meetings disrupted or had been stopped in the street by the police in possession of religious tracts; of those applicants some had been taken to police stations and had either been beaten or forced to sign a written undertaking not to hold any more gatherings in the future.
All allege that religious equipment and literature had been confiscated or stolen from them, and in one case had subsequently been publicly burned.
The events described by six of the applicants in two of the incidents have been examined in a case already brought to the European Court of Human rights (Begheluri and Others v. Georgia, application no. 28490/02).
All the applicants lodged administrative complaints against the Ministry of the Interior, police officers allegedly involved either directly or indirectly (on account of their failure to intervene in the various incidents) and the local authorities, claiming compensation.
Their complaints were all later dismissed, ultimately at the level of the Supreme Court, because the police’s or the authorities’ involvement in the incidents had not been proven.
The applicants essentially complain about the religiously motivated violence to which they were subjected, alleging that it breached their right to freely practise their religion via meetings and the distribution of religious literature.
They also complain about the courts’ subsequent failure to provide any redress, alleging in particular that the civil and administrative legal remedies in the face of allegedly state-tolerated religious violence in Georgia was inefficient and inadequate.
They rely on Article 6 (right to a fair trial), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion), Article 11 (freedom of association), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).
By Guest Nicole
En su día, Georgia formaba parte de la URSS, y hoy día es apenas un satélite de Rusia por muy soberana que diga ser.
La asistente del Presidente de la República de Osetia del Sur en asuntos religiosos Sonia Khubaeva anunció LA CAZA de los representantes de las organizaciones religiosas no tradicionales. Según ella, la actividad de los "Testigos de Jehová" en Osetia del Sur es ilegal, y las fuerzas de seguridad tienen el derecho de detener las reuniones religiosas. Khubaeva considera a los testigos como EXTREMISTAS.
By Guest Nicole
A large plot of land on J M Turk Road in Flowery Branch was once covered by a forest, but has been cleared away in the last year to make room for a new Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall.
The hall opened in May after eight months of construction, said one of the congregation elders Robert Rankin.
“We used all-volunteer labor,” he said. “No one was paid to do this.”
The term “kingdom hall” was adopted by witnesses to describe their place of worship instead of the word church. They say biblically, the word “church” describes a group of worshippers, and not the place they congregate.
Kingdom halls are thus places for witnesses to meet and learn about the kingdom of God.
The Flowery Branch kingdom hall was designed with a more modern, “educational center look,” Rankin said.
“This is the new design,” he said. “You used to build them with a more residential look, with the sloped roof, you know. But in the long run, this outlasts that.”
His wife, Mary Rankin, said it is a commonly used international design, because it meets codes in just about any part of the world.
Robert Rankin said the facility is made of absolutely no wood, which saves time in construction because nails don’t have to be driven into planks. And the building’s flat roof allows air conditioning and utilities to be stored on top.
The hall also has a dehumidifying system to help keep the temperature comfortable, Mary Rankin said.
“I always have a problem being too cold,” she said. “But this is great.”
As witnesses or visitors enter the kingdom hall, they enter a bright, open lobby area with a wall of windows. Against another wall is a community board, showcasing lists and schedules. All duties in the hall are shared, including who cleans every day.
The kingdom hall has one large space used primarily for worship with a capacity for about 235 people. Each Sunday, it seats just less than 150 attendees. A nearby “overflow room” is used as a private meeting room, seating about 50 people.
A third auxiliary room toward the back of the building seats closer to 25.
All three rooms have mounted televisions, with the goal off streaming video in all of them, Robert Rankin said.
The facility has spacious mens’ and womens’ restrooms, a family restroom, a walk-in coat closet and a small, private meeting room close to the front doors.
“We have one lady in our congregation who can’t do the fluorescent lights,” Mary Rankin said. “But she can sit in there. For a while she wasn’t able to come, but now she can sit and hear the whole program.”
“And if someone has something personal they want to talk to one of the brothers about, they can do that here,” Robert Rankin added.
The new hall was constructed because of vast growth in the area, the Rankins said.
“It’s the fastest growing religion in the world,” Mary Rankin said.
Robert Rankin said more than 8 million witnesses are in the world. Already two other kingdom halls are in the Hall County area, one on Stephens Road in Gainesville and another on Ednaville Road in Braselton.
“That’s where we moved out of,” Robert Rankin said. “Because we had actually six congregations in the one building. So there are two here now and a Spanish congregation that meets here as well.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not follow the “megachurch” model with one preacher or minister to a single, large congregation. Every kingdom hall has multiple elders. The Flowery Branch facility has 12, with Robert Rankin as the coordinator of the body of elders.
“When you have a meeting of the elders, the coordinator just provides an agenda,” he said. “But he has no more authority than any others. And ministers are not paid.”
The kingdom hall has a midweek meeting — what other denominations might call a worship service — at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and a weekend meeting at 10 a.m. Sundays.
Meetings begin and end with song and prayer and include audience participation in Bible examination and study, like a classroom discussion. They are open to the public, not just Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“It’s pretty good,” Robert Rankin said with a laugh. “I’ve been in it since I was a young guy. It does increase your knowledge. It doesn’t just give you a speaking ability or train you, but it gives you information.”
Meetings at the Flowery Branch kingdom hall often start with a 2-3 minute video, to introduce a topic or subject. The screens throughout the hall are used for this purpose.
Collections are never taken at any kingdom hall. Instead, donation boxes are fixed to the wall, one for local facility maintenance and another for world donations.
“Getting these halls built in third-world countries — everybody contributes,” Robert Rankin said. “But there is no requirement. Everyone just takes care of each other.”
He said if anyone has questions about Jehovah’s Witnesses, what they do and what they believe, they can read some frequently asked questions and watch informational videos at www.jw.org.
Mary Rankin said commonly asked questions include “Why does God allow suffering and evil?”
“A lot of people ask us that,” she said.
Robert Rankin said the greatest and simplest hope for the kingdom hall is to be available to people and to educate.
“We’ve gone out for years and heard people say, ‘But you don’t believe in Jesus,’” he said. “But that’s just ridiculous. What hope is there, unless he is there? Our feeling is, as the scripture (says), Jehovah is the creator and Jesus is the Son of God who came here and willingly died for us. And we’re here to promote that.”
Aug 18, 2016
TBILISI, DFWatch–On November 23 last year, shots were fired at a building used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Vazisubani, a district in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
When bullets slammed into the building again one week later, a lawyer representing the religious community wondered why the police were not using footage from their surveillance cameras to solve the case.
No-one was detained, and at years end, the case was still under investigation.
Human rights workers have pointed out the slow and sometimes non-existent response from law enforcement to acts of violence or discrimination against religious minorities in Georgia.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Georgia recorded 51 cases of discrimination or violence in 2015, according to according to a report (PDF, 162kb) published last week by the U.S. State Department.
Among the incidents were scolding, dispersal of religious ceremonies, damage to property, vandalism, interruption into the handing out of flyers or placing stands on the streets.
“In April, Jehovah’s Witnesses reported they received a threatening letter from residents of Terjola, who warned of massive protests if they continued construction of a kingdom hall there and said they would be ‘held responsible’,” the report reads.
“Local GOC church leaders stated someone was trying to provoke confrontation and make it appear that the GOC was persecuting the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
The Prosecutor General’s Office investigated 20 criminal cases that had a religious motivation; 18 of them about crimes directed at Jehovah’s Witnesses and two against Muslim communities, the U.S. State Department writes in the report, which surveys the level of religious freedom across countries.
Five of these cases, all involving Jehovah’s Witnesses, led to prosecutions and convictions – two were fined and three sentenced to community service. Seven cases were terminated without further action due to lack of evidence, while eight investigations remained pending at year’s end.
“The government also concluded three investigations it began in 2014, resulting in the prosecution and conviction of three defendants for their acts against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of the three defendants, two were fined and one was sentenced to a year of imprisonment,” the report concludes.
65 cases of violence against Jehovah’s Witnesses were reported in 2014.
A lawyer for Jehovah’s Witnesses wondered why police were not using recordings from the surveillance cameras they have installed. (Rustavi 2.)
Some of the discrimination occurs when members try to hand out flyers in the streets. (Interpressnews.)
Problems getting a construction permit for a new congregation house in Terjola is one of the cases mentioned in the U.S. State Department’s report. (Interpressnews.)
By Guest Nicole
En una asamblea regional 2016 en Georgia, EEUU, los hermanos responsables se vieron obligados a cerrar las puertas porque el local estaba totalmente lleno. Muchos hermanos asombrados se quedaron en la calle sin poder entrar. La asistencia en ese momento era de 12.000 personas. Desde los sistemas de sonido se pidió que los hermanos a los que no les correspondía asistir a esa asamblea, que la abandonasen, porque muchos que si les correspondía, estaban en la calle. En poco tiempo el auditorio se quedo en 10.800 y pudieron entrar los que estaban en la calle esperando.
By Jack Ryan
Very strange behavior by the attendants and Elders after the Duluth, GA, RC. On the first link the attendants start to exit the arena, then line up and turn their backs on the street preachers. (Around the 6:00 mark).
This video shows the attendants and Elders singing over and over, We are Jehovah's Witnesses and clapping hands.
By Guest Nicole
Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses are gathering at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth this weekend for the final summer convention in Georgia.
The three-day event, which runs through Sunday, will focus on the quality of loyalty during their 2016 “Remain Loyal to Jehovah!” Convention. At least 7,000 people are expected to attend.
Keith Smith, a spokesman for the convention program, said in a statement thatJehovah’s Witnesses have been involved in an extensive campaign across North Georgia.
“Loyalty can be a challenge…at work, in the family, in our personal lives and in our relationship with God. All too often, disloyalty is fracturing our lives and communities,” he said.
There is no charge to attend the convention at the Infinite Energy Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway.
By Guest Nicole
En este video se ve a los partidarios del sacerdote disidente Rev Basily Mkalashvili saliendo de los autobuses y corriendo, el sacerdote seguido por sus partidarios saca la literatura del almacén, la pasa a los demás y queman folletos. Luego se ve a los partidarios en el almacén tomando la literatura y arrojándola al fuego.
"Hace algunos días recibimos información acerca de que 80 toneladas de literatura de los Testigos de Jehová han sido introducidas ilegalmente en nuestro país. Estamos aquí porque es contrario a nuestras creencias Ortodoxas. Va en contra de las normas de la Ortodoxia de Georgia y siempre los castigaremos”
Se ve a los partidarios de Mkalashvili pasándose literatura entre ellos, mujeres revisando una caja de libros y Basily dando órdenes a la multitud.
Cuatro toneladas de literatura de los Testigos de Jehová fueron quemadas el domingo cerca de Tbilisi, la capital de Georgia por seguidores del sacerdote Ortodoxo disidente.
Varias docenas de partidarios de Basily Mkalashvili, quien ha sido excomulgado de la Iglesia Ortodoxa de Georgia, llegaron a un almacén en las afueras de la ciudad para ayudar en la destrucción de material por motivos religiosos.
De acuerdo a Mkalashvili, 80 toneladas de literatura de los Testigos de Jehová fueron introducidas en Georgia hace un par de días.
Él dice que 76 toneladas de esta literatura aún permanecen en la ciudad de Kutaisi, aproximadamente a 100 kilómetros de Tbilisi.
Mkalashvili y sus partidarios que se consideran ellos mismos ser verdaderos Cristianos Ortodoxos de Georgia están planeando ir a Kutaisi a destruir el resto de los libros religiosos.
By The Librarian
1. Supporters of dissident priest Rev Basily Mkalashvili getting out of buses and running
2. Priest walking, zoom out and pan of supporters following him
3. Supporters of Rev Mkalashvili taking out literature from storage room
4. Priest passing books
5. Burning leaflet, zoom out to fire
6. Rev Basily among supporters, pan to people throwing literature in the fire
7. Supporters of Rev Mkalashvili around the fire
8. Crowd at the storage room, pan to the fire
10. Pan of books in the fire
11. SOUNDBITE: (Georgian) Rev Basily Mkalashvili, dissident priest
"Some days ago we received information that about 80 tons of Jehovah`s Witnesses literature has been smuggled in our country. We are here because it is contrary to our Orthodox belief. It is against the rules of the Georgian Orthodoxy and we will always punish them."
12. Supporters of Rev Mkalashvili passing literature to each other
13. Women looking through a box of books
14. Rev. Basily commanding the crowd
15. Fire with the books thrown in it
Four tonnes of Jehovah's Witness literature was burned on Sunday near the Georgian capital Tbilisi by followers of a dissident Orthodox priest.
Several dozen supporters of Rev. Basily Mkalashvili, who has been excommunicated from the Georgian Orthodox Church, came to a warehouse on the outskirts of the city to help destroy the material on religious grounds.
According to Mkalashvili, 80 tonnes of Jehovah's Witnesses' literature was brought into Georgia a couple of days ago.
He says 76 tonnes of this literature still remains in the town of Kutaisi, around 100 kilometres from Tbilisi.
Mkalashvili and his supporters, who consider themselves to be true Georgian Orthodox Christians, are planning to make their way to Kutaisi to destroy the rest of the religious books.
By Guest Nicole
By Guest Nicole
By The Librarian
Investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are still trying to figure out what happened to a Telfair County man found shot to death in his home last week.
Earl Seay's bright blue house is still adorned with pieces of red and yellow crime scene tape -- the only signs of what happened there last week.
David Spires manages the apartments across the street. He says he knew Seay years ago, but didn't know anyone lived in the home anymore.
"It gives you chill bumps," he said. "I hope they find out who done it."
Seays' brother found the 67-year-old shot to death last Wednesday. He was a radio dispatcher for the Telfair County Sheriff's Office in the 80's and 90's, according to his obituary.
The obituary also says Seay struggled with alcohol addiction in his later years. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and was sober for 16 years. He was also a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses church.
"Earl was a good guy, just always full of life. [He] laughed and always had a joke to tell you," Spires said.
Since Seay was killed, Spires says his tenants have been on edge -- wondering what happened at the blue house across the street from them.
The GBI won't release any further details about how Seay died. The bureau says they don't want to jeopardize their investigation.
WMAZ spoke to some of Seay's family members today. They declined to comment for this story.
By Guest Nicole
The Kiwi Café in Tbilisi, Georgia, is a hipster enclave in the city. It's located on a rundown street at the edge of the country's capital and is known for its veggie burgers and falafel. But this weekend, the cafe became the target of an attack by extremists, who reportedly ransacked the cafe and bludgeoned its patrons with meat.
Around 15 people brandishing meat skewers showed up at the business on Sunday and began shouting at customers, throwing pieces of meat at them and into their food, according to Kiwi Café staff.
"They were wearing sausages on their necks," 20-year-old Giorgi Gegelashvili, who works at the cafe and seemed slightly traumatized by the event, told VICE. "They were yelling, 'We know your face, who know who you are.'"
Gegelashvili and other staffers told me the attackers were members of a local neo-Nazi soccer fan club who had harassed patrons of the Kiwi Café a month earlier.
According to Kiwi Café staff, as the yelling and abuse spilled into the street, over a dozen neighbors noticed the ruckus and joined in. They claim that the neighbors were yelling that the cafe's customers and staff were "punks" who were "not Georgian" and "had no respect for traditional values."
According to Kiwi Café's statement on the incident, a female cafe worker's face was shoved onto the street, while a customer's face was cut after a man hit him with a walking stick. A brawl reportedly ensued, with about four of the cafe's staff and patrons receiving some kind of injury.
"Our neighbors do not like us, maybe because we have piercings and tattoos and talk about peace," Gegelashvili told me.
Kiwi first opened in July 2015 and is run by a cooperative of vegans, most of whom sport dreads, tattoos, and piercings. The place is a symbol of counterculture, decorated with posters that say things like, "Not your mom, not your milk!" In New York or San Francisco, such an establishment would hardly cause a stir. But in a country like Georgia, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
"I do not like that Kiwi place," a small business owner on the same street as the cafe told me, although he said he knew nothing about the recent events. "They put things in their hair, their skin..."
The attack dovetails rising concerns in the country over the far right, and particularly the status of sexual minorities and immigrants. Earlier this month, a massive anti-gay conference was hosted in Tbilisi, and during Independence Day celebrations last week, hundreds of ultra-nationalists marched through Tbilisi chanting "Georgia is for the Georgians!"
Vegans and others with "alternative lifestyles" are often lumped together with gays and immigrants by the extreme right, according to Shota Kincha, a researcher at the Tbilisi-based Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center.
"Obviously, those who work or frequent [Kiwi Café] were and are identified as dubious or deviant in terms of their lifestyle and expression," Kincha told VICE.
According to Kiwi Café's statement, the chaos ended when police arrived at the scene.
It appears that police are investigating the incident. When I visited Kiwi on Tuesday, several of the cafe's staff members were meeting uniformed police officers and being driven to the police station for interviews.
No arrests have been reported so far, though Kiwi staff claim to know the identities of some of the sausage-wielding attackers.
For its part, Kiwi Café has promised to remain open "in spite of... everyday negative attitudes to us and other people who visit us." The cafe has also received support both online and offline, although that has been tempered by some anti-vegan vitriol on its Facebook page as well.
Earlier today, David Vashadze, who works as the Georgian Film Commissioner, came to Kiwi for a coffee and to show solidarity with the establishment. He was with a friend who denounced the assault as un-Georgian.
"That was very stupid," Vashadze told me, "and I'm not even vegetarian."
The former Soviet Republic of Georgia is planning a new bill that will legally punish irreverence toward religion. However, concerns have been raised the 'blasphemy bill' could be used against any organization who does not follow the church's principles.
The bill has been approved by committee, and according to The Guardian, is headed for the parliamentary floor. If passed, the bill will impose a fine of 100 lari, equivalent to $120 USD, for insults to religious feeling. The penalty will then be doubled if the offense is committed a second time.
Religious minorities fear the bill may be used to guard the interests of the influential Georgian Orthodox Church. While these minorities agree that all religions should be protected by the law, they are concerned the 'blasphemy bill' will become a tool for discrimination against them.
Baptist Bishop, Rusudan Gotsiridze, said that the law would not protect anyone; at least, not the minorities, and will be a powerful tool against freedom of speech.
Georgian ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili also criticized the law saying that "the current wording proposes the 'insult to religious feelings' as the sole criterion for limiting freedom of expression, which... subjects one individual to another's will and places the believers in a privileged position."
The draft is most likely to be passed in a parliamentary election year. On February 2, the ruling Georgian Dream Coalition endorsed the document at a human rights committee hearing which was snubbed by the minority.
The blasphemy bill has caused division both within and outside the ruling coalition. Tamar Kordzaia, a member of the Georgian Dream coalition has spoken against the bill, saying that it comes short of international human rights standards and would upset the existing balance of civil liberties.
The Georgian Orthodox Church is associated with a pro-Russian and nationalist agenda, giving them much ruling power. Members of the said church have been associated with demonstrations, sometimes violent, against religious minorities such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Pentecostals, and Muslims. Back in September 2014, local Orthodox Christians slaughtered a pig and nailed its head to the front door of a Muslim boarding school to protest its opening.
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