DRAFT LAW “ON EXPRESSION FREEDOM’ PREPARED

February 26th, 2008
The Media Rights Institute reported to the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety that this organization has prepared a draft law "On Expression Freedom" and it will be published in the near future.

During the preparation of this draft law the theses of Georgia's draft law "On Expression Freedom" and legal conceptions of European countries were considered. This law permits interference in expression freedom only in the cases mentioned below:
Interference:
•    Should be directed to achieving legitimate purpose
•    Should be defined with clear, simple and purposeful law
•    in a democratic society should be put forth when needs are inevitable
•    the necessity of value protected with imposing restriction should be higher than the negative results achieved by restriction
•    should be indiscriminative
      
With the draft law everyone is entitled to appeal to court about defamatory expressions.  The court may force a defendant to publish information about the decision of the court and to pay for damages if material damages (real damage and profit that could be made) are proved. The fine for moral damages cannot exceed conditional 1000 standard financial units.
The draft law recommends some changes to articles 147(defamation) and 148(insult) of the Criminal Code but doesn't demand their removal. The draft law recommends removal of the expressions "up to 240 hours of social work or imprisonment up to six months" from articles 147.1 and 148 and to repeal article 147.2 (defamation in accusing someone in grave crimes or especially grave crimes) entirely.  
According to draft law, the expression "or imprisonment up to one year" should be taken away from Article 324 of the Criminal Code, which encompasses responsibility for insulting actions against the state flag and state emblem, and article 323, which encompasses punishment for insulting the dignity of the president, should also be removed.