On March 21 March, the Parliament convened the extraordinary Plenary Session to authorize the #1 Presidential Decree over State of Emergency throughout the country.
Prior to the Session, the Speaker, H.E. Archil Talakvadze addressed the MPs and noted that the President of Georgia declared a State of Emergency throughout Georgia, therefore, the Parliament shifts to the mode of Extraordinary Session until the state of emergency is lifted.
The Plenary Agenda enshrined two issues: Draft Resolutions on Presidential Decree of March 21, 2020 on Declaration of State of Emergency throughout Georgia and Measures Envisaged within Presidential Decree of March 21, 2020 on Declaration of State of Emergency throughout Georgia.
The Decree, co-signed by Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia, was introduced to the Parliament by the President of Georgia, Mme. Salome Zourabichvili.
According to her, declaring the State of Emergency is a timely and urgent means for the current situation.
"Today, on the basis of Article 61 of the Constitution of Georgia and the Rule 83 of the Rules of Procedure, I have declared the State of Emergency throughout the whole territory of the country.
This decree provides for the introduction of a state of emergency throughout Georgia, with a validity period of April 21, 2020.
At this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was ordered to notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations immediately right after the emergency was declared.
The decision was taken, together with the Government, taking into account the estimations of health care professionals. Moving to the II phase of the epidemic, when the situation is expected to worsen, strict rules are necessary to be elaborated. The State shall take all the leverage for their execution. Declaring a state of emergency is essential for the Government to efficiently manage the situation and take the necessary legal steps.
All available examples illustrate that the more timely an emergency is declared, the more effective it is. Every late day reduces its extension. You may think that 49 infected people do not deserve such a radical approach, however, the declaration of emergency will yield an effect before the outbreak begins and the epidemic will enter a critical phase”, - Salome Zourabichvili stated.
As the President added, the emergency does not introduce a curfew. In addition, the President's Administration is also committed to support the Georgian Diaspora in every way possible.
“In such a difficult situation, vulnerable groups need more attention, especially by the President. These people will have specific problems and challenges that we need to handle together. Our diaspora is in extremely difficult material conditions. Our diplomatic missions, embassies and consulates work tirelessly to assist our compatriots round the clock. The President's Administration is ready to stand by them in every way”, - the Georgian President noted.
Government Spokesman Beka Dochviri introduced the reasons for declaring the State of Emergency, after which the President introduced the Decree to the Parliament.
According to the decree, a number of rights defined by the constitution of Georgia will be restricted by the term of emergency on the territory of Georgia, including: rights of movement, ownership, assembly and gathering; opportunity to provide public services.
The Decree provides for administrative and criminal sanctions for violations of Emergency Regime.
MP Alexander Erkvania remarked that it is inadmissible to ban believers from attending liturgies especially amid the forthcoming Easter.
The Leader of the Alliance of Patriots, Vice-Speaker, Irma Inashvili noted - "We understand very well that there is a special situation in the country right now and we have to take care of the lives and safety of our citizens, but, before we vote and approve, I would like to make it clear to us again - whether a state of emergency could be declared until April 18, since April 19 is Easter. The majority of our population are Orthodox Christians and we are getting ready for this day”.
The Vice-Speaker inquired whether the Orthodox congregation would be limited.
According to Archil Talakvadze, after the session, he will brief the citizens and the media at a briefing on what it means to declare a state of emergency and what possible restrictions will be introduced by the decree.
"The Government and the President will communicate with the media regarding each and every question that may emerge. The possible limitation of all rights and all Constitutional Articles is specified in the Presidential Decree. There is a task concerning the public health, there is a world pandemic, we have gathered today to protect our citizens and our society from these dangers by declaring a state of emergency”, - Archil Talakvadze stated.
The Parliament approved the Presidential Decree with 115 votes against 2 and the Draft resolution of parliament on Measures Envisaged within #1 Presidential Decree of March 21, 2020 on Declaration of State of Emergency throughout Georgia with 115 votes in favor.
According to A. Talakvadze, by the Presidential Decree #1 of March 21, 2020, until the emergency situation is lifted throughout Georgia, Plenary Sessions will be convened as required by the judgement of the Chairman of the Parliament.
In doing so, the Parliament accomplished the Extraordinary Plenary Session of March 21.