PACE calls for an end to sexism and sexual harassment in parliaments
The Assembly today called for a series of measures aimed at stopping sexism and sexual harassment in politics, including in parliaments. These recommendations are addressed to national parliaments, but also to political parties and governments.
They focus on raising awareness of this phenomenon (which is commonplace but widespread and systematic) through surveys and public debate, as well as the introduction of effective complaint procedures and mechanisms for parliaments with effective sanctions that are proportional to the seriousness of the facts and accessible to both Members and staff. Data collection, monitoring and research in this area should also be intensified.
Following the proposals of the rapporteur, Thorhildur Sunna AEvarsdottir (Iceland, SOC), the Assembly also called for the modification of its Code of Conduct to introduce an explicit ban on sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence, and a reference to the protection of dignity.
As the extent of the problem of violence against women in politics has started to be understood only very recently - as part of the #MeToo movement and following a joint IPU/PACE study - all parliaments are invited to join and support the #NotInMyParliament initiative.
HEARING OF MINISTER OF FINANCE WITHIN MINISTERIAL HOUR
The Parliament heard the Minister of Finance, Lasha Khutsishvili, within the Ministerial Hour, reporting on the activities and future plans of the agency.
According to the Minister, 10.1 percent was the real GDP growth in 2022, which was still double-digit. This information was provided by the National Statistical Agency. According to Lasha Khutsishvili, the economy's level reached its pre-pandemic trend in 2021–2022, and considerable growth persisted in 2023 (8.4% growth in January). He claims that in 2022, greater economic conditions compared to expectations allowed for the first time an increase in budget revenues.
"The consolidated budget's tax revenue rate climbed by 1.8 billion GEL from its first plan to its final plan, which was 17 billion 350 million GEL. Tax revenue cash flow exceeded 17 billion 385 million GEL, exceeding the enhanced expected indicators by 100.2 percent. It should be noted that the rate of value-added tax refunds exceeded 2 billion 265 million GEL at the same time. The consolidated budget's overall revenue exceeded 23 billion 648 million GEL, or 100.8 percent, of the projected amount”, - the Minister of Finance noted.
Regarding the expenditure component, the Minister reported strong performance and a volume of 23 billion 49 million GEL, or 99.7% of the anticipated amount. Cash flow above 15 billion 615 million GEL (99.2% of the estimate) and capital expenses exceeded 6 billion 169 billion GEL (101.2% of the projection), respectively, for the portion of current expenses.
Lasha Khutsishvili called attention to the trend of declining budget deficits.
Lasha Khutsishvili discussed the reforms that are currently taking place within the Ministry's system, including: the management of state finances, management of state investments, management of debt, reform of state enterprises, analysis of the efficacy of tax expenditures, and reforms in the tax and customs areas.
According to the Finance Minister, the Ministry started actively working on the examination of tax expenditures, or tax advantages that are legally defined, in 2020.
THE PARLIAMENT HEARD THE ACTIVITY REPORT FOR 2022 OF THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO PACE
At the plenary session, MPs heard the Activity Report for 2022 of the Parliamentary Delegation to PACE, introduced by the Head of the Delegation, Irakli Chikovani.
“One of the acute issues for the PACE and for us was the devastation in Ukraine entailed by the Russian aggression and the decision made on the exclusion of Russia from the Coe and the preparation for a new Summit that is scheduled in May 2023 and that shall be dedicated to the planning of the further steps of the organization”, - he stated.
According to him, the Georgian Delegation was one of the main Delegations that approved the exclusion of Russia at the emergency session convened by the CoE. As noted, sundry resolutions have been adopted in 2022 related to the situation in Ukraine, where the Georgian Delegation in full composition, including the Majority and the Opposition MPs, unanimously approved the documents except one resolution providing the record about the third President of Georgia.
“This Resolution was connected neither to Georgia nor the situation in Georgia or the democratic reforms; it was an attempt, which by the way was quite successfully conducted by the EPP members and the rapporteur of the Resolution”, - he noted and added that the Resolution on Georgia initiated by the Monitoring Committee and adopted by the PACE reflects the immense progress achieved by Georgia in the democracy, rule of law and human rights protection directions.
“This progress is clearly underlined and which is unambiguously confirmed by the CoE as a whole, though it also provides the challenges in Georgia being addressed by the Government”, - the reporter ended his speech.
PARLIAMENT DELIBERATING DRAFT DEFENSE CODE OF GEORGIA
The Parliament deliberated the draft Defense Code presented by the Government of Georgia as a legislative initiative, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the management of the defense forces and preparing a unified codified legal act in the field of defense, thus reregulating the issues related to the organization and activity of the Defense Ministry and the military service.
The speaker, Deputy Minister of Defense, Grigol Giorgadze, elaborated on the main reforms and new approaches of the system, which the mentioned document envisages.
As the speaker clarified, the Code is focused on the new rules of military service tailored to the defense goals and improving the social guarantees of the persons employed in the system of the Ministry of Defense.
The Draft re-titles the mandatory military service into the “national military service of conscripts” and reduces the term of service for the conscripts, namely – the 12-month service shall be replaced with the differentiated terms: 6 months for serving in the combat unit; 8 months – in the defense or security unit; and 11 months – for preliminarily determined majors. The conscription shall be ensured by providing the priorities of the Ministry. The conscripts may serve only in the system of the Ministry.
The recruitment will be carried out taking into account the priorities of the Ministry.
The draft of amendments, which was prepared on the basis of the model of the Finnish and Baltic countries, provides a one-time possibility of postponement of military service, and it also provides conditions for alternative military service.
"The Code re-regulates the military reform adjusting it to the defense objectives and establishes significant social guarantees for the military personnel and creates the effective legal mechanisms for interoperability with NATO defense standards”, - the Deputy Minister of Defense, Grigol Giorgadze remarked.
As an alternative to the draft Defense Code, MP Aleksandre Rakviashvili presented a legislative package.
He claims that if the supplied document is used as a foundation, the system will undergo certain adjustments.
As a result of the voting, the legislative package will ultimately be evaluated in light of the document provided by the Government's legislative proposal, which received support from 69 MPs.
PARLIAMENT ELECTING LEVAN IOSELIANI AS PUBLIC DEFENDER OF GEORGIA
The Parliament endorsed the candidacy of Levan Ioseliani for the post of the Public Defender of Georgia with 96 votes.
According to the Rules of Procedure, the voting was held without discussion. The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili congratulated Levan Ioseliani on his election as Public Defender and wished him fruitful work.
Levan Ioseliani addressed the MPs.
"It is a significant day in my life because, at this time of great difficulty for our country, I was given a great duty. I want to convey my gratitude to everyone who placed their trust in me for this opportunity", - Levan Ioseliani noted.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation under articles 353 and 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia in connection with violent incidents that took place in Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue, near the Parliament building.The law enforcement officers arrested 66 people in accordance with Articles 166 and 173 under the Code of Administrative Offenses, on the facts of minor hooliganism and disobedience to the legal request of the law enforcement officer. The facts of the offense committed by the mentioned individuals shall be submitted to the court within the time frame established by the law.From the side of the Ministry, the appropriate legal assessment will be given to the actions of all individuals who facilitated and organized the development of a peaceful protest into violent action.Yesterday, throughout the day, the relevant units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were mobilized near the parliament building in order to ensure the public order and peaceful conduct of the manifestation.Later, the protest of the gathered went beyond the limits established by law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and took a violent turn.Participants of the rally attempted to block entrances of the Parliament, which was prevented by police. Despite numerous calls from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to express their protest in a peaceful manner within the framework of the law, rally participants continued their violent actions and ignored the legal requirements of the law enforcement officers.The police, in order to ease the tension and de-escalate the situation, opened the road and called on protesters to disperse. However, the rally participants threw various objects - stones, inflammables, blunt objects – to the direction of the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, physically assaulted and resisted the policemen. Participants of the rally damaged and set fire to vehicles belonging to the Ministry as well as special police equipment.In order to restore public order and foil violations of the law, the police was forced to gradually apply proportional force and special means of coercion provided by the Law of Georgia "On Police" based on the necessity and after the appropriate warning.Later, the gathered people started an organized attack on the parliament building, throwing the so-called "Molotov cocktails" and pyrotechnics, including in the direction of law enforcement officers.Members of the manifestation set fire to the building of the legislative body, threw stones, smashed windows and damaged the iron protective barriers.There was a mass violation of law and order from the side of rally participants, which persisted continuously for several hours.As a result of the violent actions of the assembled citizens, up to 50 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were injured, several of them required surgical intervention and are still in medical institutions. During the manifestation, citizens were injured as well.The Ministry will study all facts of violation that took place during the manifestation and will give an appropriate legal assessment to each one of them.
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