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USAID RULE OF LAW PROGRAM
USAID სამართლის უზენაესობის პროგრამა

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07 - 09 Jun, 2024

USAID Rule of Law Program's Public Talks Spark Dialogue on Freedom of Expression

"Freedom of speech’ is not just a privilege, but a fundamental necessity for humanity.”  - remarked David Gorgiladze, a writer, journalist, and the host of the popular YouTube show "Unbearable Lightness of Gorgiladze," during the USAID Rule of Law Program's public talks held Kutaisi and Batumi on June 8 and 9, 2024.

These June talks focused on the issue of 'Freedom of Expression' and attracted a diverse group of more than 75 attendees, including law students, business professionals, psychologists, marketing specialists, civil activists, and lawyers.

Keynote speakers, including David Gorgiladze and lawyer Zviad Kordzadze, both of whom discussed the importance of freedom of speech and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Gorgiladze initiated the conversation by referencing the thoughts of Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed novelist, who had argued that the inclination to hear and express thoughts is not merely a choice but an innate human necessity. Gorgiladze explained how important storytelling can be and how the suppression of expression can stifle societal progress, likening it to the shrinking of skin. Drawing parallels to contemporary events, he emphasized the swift pace at which societal dynamics evolve and the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression in such turbulent times.

Echoing Gorgiladze’s views, Kordzadze emphasized the indispensable role of freedom of speech in fostering a vibrant society. Kordzadze stated his belief that freedom of speech is essential for individuals and society. He told the audience that a wise government listens to its people and allows them to voice their opinions without fear. When people are unable to express themselves freely, it hampers their ability to think critically. However, this freedom has limits—it shouldn't infringe on the rights and reputation of others. He also emphasized the importance of freedom of association, where people can come together around common concerns, laying the foundation for a strong civil society.

Through open discussions and interactions with the speakers, participants exchanged ideas, shared perspectives, and explored potential solutions to common challenges.

The discussions also addressed recent laws and legislative amendments adopted or proposed by the Georgian Parliament, as well as the role specific societal groups can plan in driving meaningful change.

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