A package of legislative amendments has been submitted to the Parliament this week criminalizing participation in and broad range of other activities related to illegal armed groups abroad, as well as “traveling abroad for the purpose of terrorism.”
Amendments are part of a broader package of bills, drafted by the Interior Ministry, which also involves a proposal to criminalize “calls, inciting strife.”
According to the bill, “joining and/or participation in an illegal formation operating on the territory of a foreign country or receiving training from such formation; recruiting or training a person with the purpose of joining, participating or otherwise promoting the activities of such illegal formation; gathering of persons and/or dissemination or use of materials and/or symbols related to membership and/or participation in illegal formation” will be punishable with imprisonment from 5 to 10 years.
The bill also criminalizes calling for committing these offenses, listed in the clause, making it punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment.
The bill, if approved, will introduce a new clause, which will make it punishable by 6 years to 9 years imprisonment “traveling abroad for the purpose of carrying out, preparing of terrorist activities or for the purpose of participating in a terrorist activity as well as in a terrorist training”. Recruiting persons for carrying out terrorism or “supporting” terrorist activity will also be criminalized with the proposed legislative amendments.
An explanatory note of the bill says that the amendments aim at preventing participation of Georgian citizens in illegal armed groups abroad, which the document describes as “one of the main challenges to the country’s security and stability.”
The idea of such legislation was first floated last year after it emerged that several dozen of Georgian citizens, mainly from Pankisi gorge in northeastern part of the country, were fighting for the Islamic State in Syria.
The bill also envisages introduction of a new clause in the criminal code, which will make it punishable by 8 years to 14 years imprisonment funding of activities with “prior intent” to undermine country’s security and constitutional order.
Georgia tightened counter-terrorism legislation in November, 2013, when the chapter devoted to terrorism-related crimes was largely amended to criminalize terrorism-related offenses to a greater extent; the definition of a terrorist act was broadened and the threat of terrorism was criminalized.