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The News in Brief

Monday, June 27
Georgian parliament rejects sexual harassment bill

On Thursday, the Georgian parliament on rejected a proposal to criminalize sexual harassment in the work place and in public places.

During the last year, about 50 complaints about sexual harassment have been filed with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and two with the Ombudsman’s Office.

The bill would set punishment for verbal or physical assault in the work place to a 500 lari fine, rising to 1,000 in the event of repeat offences.

The punishment for sexual assault against a subordinate would be a 2,000 lari fine, but 2,500 laris if it is repeated.

The bill was proposed by MPs Tamar Khidasheli and Tamar Kordzaia, both from the Republican Party.

Khidasheli told DFWatch earlier that one of the reasons they decided to submit the bill to parliament was a case at Imedi TV in April, when actress and anchor Tatia Samkharadze accused her producer Shalva Ramishvili of sexual harassment.

Khidasheli said that they had consultations with the Ombudsman’s Office, which has received two complaints about sexual harassment during the last year, while about 50 cases have reached the police.

The bill, however, didn’t explain specifically what kind of action would be considered sexual harassment. Khidasheli explained that it was not reasonable to include such explanations in the law and that it would depend on each individual case.

But the lack of a clear definition was what the MIA criticized the bill for. The ministry claimed it was too vague and that it would have been complicated to identify cases of sexual harassment and classifying them.

EU, Georgia Sign Security of Information Agreement

Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini signed a Security of Information Agreement between Georgia and the EU in Brussels on June 23.

Upon coming into force, the agreement will enable the European Commission, EU’s diplomatic service – the European External Action Service, the Council of the EU to exchange classified information with relevant authorities in Georgia.

The agreement, however, does not oblige either the EU or Georgia to exchange classified information, but ensures that any such information, if exchanged, is given a level of protection commensurate with its security classification.

The agreement is expected to enter into force by the end of 2016 after the completion of the ratification procedures by Georgia and the EU.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that the agreement “will significantly contribute to deepening of Georgia’s cooperation with the EU in the security sector.”

During the meeting Janelidze and Mogherini discussed broad range of priority areas of the EU-Georgia cooperation, including implementation of the Association Agreement, visa liberalisation, ongoing reforms in Georgia, as well as “situation in the occupied regions” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

“We know that you also have important elections coming up in October and we hope that our cooperation before and after that will be as excellent as it has been so far,” Mogherini said.

She also reiterated that Georgia has done a “remarkable” work in meeting all the criteria required to be granted short-term visa-free travel rules in the Schengen area. EU’s final decision on visa liberalization has been delayed after the last-minute objection from Germany earlier this month.

Parliament adopts amnesty law

The Parliament of Georgia approved the National Forum initiative on issuing an amnesty act. The proposed bill was unanimously approved by 77 votes.

The bill exempts men above 70 years and women above 65 years, who have committed less serious crimes, from criminal liability and punishment.

According to the National Forum, as a result of adoption and implementation of the bill, approximately 116 persons will be exempted from criminal responsibility.

The bill also concerns less serious crime which results in death of a person if the victim’s representative will state in court that he/she is not against the use of amnesty for the offender.