US and Switzerland embassies encourage parties to sign code of conduct

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The FINANCIAL — The Code of Conduct for Political Parties is a set of norms of voluntary ethics which are aimed at protecting democratic values and fundamental freedoms; conduct of a substantive, program-oriented, inclusive election campaign that provides equal opportunities for electoral stakeholders. Numerous reports by international election observation missions and other international stakeholders have recommended the development and establishment of standards regulating an ethical election campaign, including the prevention of the spread of hate speech as well as xenophobia.

A recommendation was also made in the relevant report of the Public Defender of Georgia, where the Public Defender appealed to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to develop and propose to the political parties a document of mutual agreement on the use of hate speech during the election period, uniform definition of hate speech and refraining from such statements.

US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan advised political parties to sign the Code of Conduct developed by the CEC of Georgia. She says that the Code of Conduct would promote free, fair, and transparent elections and that this is a very good initiative and the Central Election Commission deserves praise. The Central Election Commission of Georgia, with the assistance of international partners and the participation of political parties, has developed the Code of Conduct of Political Parties for 2020 Parliamentary Elections.

“Switzerland congratulates political parties in Georgia which have already signed the Code of Conduct for free, fair and peaceful 2020 parliamentarian elections, and encourages all parties to join,” stated the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. “We call the parties to abide by the Code of Conduct, which has been facilitated by the Georgian Central Election Commission with the support of Switzerland and the International Republican Institute (IRI), to promote a constructive election environment, ensuring mutual respect and diversity,” reads the statement. The Embassy added that “Switzerland is proud to contribute to facilitating political dialogue and strengthening democracy in Georgia, which is part of its strategy for supporting democratic processes and conflict prevention worldwide.”, Georgian Public Broadcasting wrote.

The CEC of Georgia, with the support of the Switzerland, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the International Republican Institute (IRI), has facilitated the process of drafting a Code of Conduct for political parties for the Parliamentary Elections of 2020. Code of Conduct for Political parties based on the international best practices was created with the assistance of Georgia’s international partners and within the participation of political parties; the Code of Conduct completely encounters with recognized international standards and is founded on the principles of ethics signed by the Presidential candidates during the Presidential Elections of 2018, organized by the CEC and supported by Switzerland. The stated document is based on the universally recognized principles of electoral ethics and includes norms on fair and worthy competition, recognition, and respect for the rights of voters and involved parties. According to CEC, the Code of Conduct contains agreement on mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the code and internal party enforcement.

The Chairperson of the Central Election Commission of Georgia Tamar Zhvania expressed her gratitude towards the participating political parties of Georgia in the development of the document. She also thanked the international community, which has supported the development and establishment of the Code of Conduct. Zhvania expressed her gratitude especially towards the political parties that intend to join and abide by this actual document, which will greatly contribute to the introduction of international best practices and improve the electoral environment. She also mentioned that the signature of the Code of Conduct (printed or e-version) is provided to all political unions registered for elections and, in case of interest, the parties can join it with the signature of the chairperson / authorized person.

In July of 2020, Facebook has responded to the appeal of Georgian NGOs on the launch of the Political Ad Library and Political Ads API in Georgia. 47 Georgian civil society and media organizations, sent an open letter to Facebook calling to take measures to prevent “anonymous, coordinated and sponsored political discrediting campaigns.” Starting in early August 2020, Facebook will require authorizations for ads about elections and politics in Georgia. Read more.

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