Party assignments to public officials
According to information provided by a number of employees of certain government bodies (Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, Ministry of Finance), high officials have given employees the task of making a list of supporters of the ruling party. They are threatened with being fired if they refuse to perform this job. Recently, similar information on this subject has become widespread in mass media reports. TI Georgia believes that this might illustrate the tendency of the government to misuse administrative resources during the pre-election period, threatening to unbalance the pre-election environment.
A Ministry of Finance employee stated that a relevant Ministry’s department a meeting was held during which he was instructed by his immediate superior to make a list of five United National Movement supporters. He was also threatened with problems for his subordinates if this task was not fulfilled. According to this person, similar meetings have taken place in other departments and units of the Ministry. This information is has been corroborated by another source. After creating a list of supporters and taking it to the Ministry, the public officials are summoned by the United National Movement. They are also informed by the United National Movement representatives that people from the list would be contacted and asked whether they really are supporters of the ruling party.
We consider that this practice violates legislation in force:
- Giving political tasks to public officials is a violation of Article 61 of the Georgian Law on Public Service, according to which, ‘A public official is not allowed to make use of his official position for political purposes.’ Accordingly, with respect to violators, disciplinary actions provided by Article 79 of the same statute are to be taken. In addition, signs of criminal offences may also be demonstrated by the behavior of superior officials. In particular, according to Article 332 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, misuse of powers by a public official, i.e. getting undue advantage for himself or for others is punishable by law. In this case, public officials have not only asked their subordinates to support a specific political party, but also collected their personal data, which is done as part of their official authority and is against the will of their subordinates and in violation of the provisions of the Law on Public Service.
- In addition, paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Election Code of Georgia prohibits making use of the official position by public servants for election purposes. It is true that this provision comes into force only from the day of appointment of the election, but political parties have already started their pre-election campaigns, and therefore this practice should be considered a misuse of administrative resources for election purposes.
- In addition, according to the OSCE Copenhagen Document, the Government is obliged to make a clear distinction between the State and political parties.
Apart from the cases mentioned above, similar patterns are repeatedly being reported by the mass media. Information received during April-June 2012 contains the following data.
- According to information spread on April 3, 2012, coordinators of territorial municipal units throughout Kakheti were given orders to make special lists where members of vulnerable families were listed as being suspected as supporters of the opposition. Also, throughout the region, school principals and kindergarten directors were given the task of providing information on which political party their employees’ family members support. (source)
- According to information spread on 4 April 2012, village trustees, public servants and employees of non-commercial and non-entrepreneurial legal entities (NNLA) in Guria region created a database of the supporters and opponents of the ruling party. This included personal data on family members and their political sympathies. This fact is corroborated by an employee of the regional Service of Emergency Situations, but he could not clarify for what purpose these databases were created. (source)
- According to information dispersed on 7 May 2012, in Chokhatauri Municipality, teachers of a local kindergarten asked the parents of the children studying there to provide them with information on family members, namely on their quantity, name, surname, age, etc. According to clarification given by the Head of the Union of Local Kindergartens, Nino Baramidze, this information was needed for a demographic statistic, and the data had been collected for a long time. However, according to employees of Chokhatauri and Lanchkhuti kindergartens, such data never had been collected before. (source)
- According to information released on May 7, 2012, in NNLAs in Ozurgeti Municipality, closed meetings were held, and employees were asked to find at least ten people who would be ready to support the ruling party in the upcoming parliamentary election. They were warned that they would be fired if they fail to do so. (source)
- According to information spread on 10 May 2012, in Ozurgeti Municipality, the Chairman of the local representative body (Sakrebulo), Aleko Mameshvili had a closed meeting in the building of the Municipality with employees of budget organizations, village trustees, public school principals, kindergarten directors, local inhabitants employed in public sector and local political activists. During the meeting he promised them help and financial support in exchange for ten supporters of the ruling party. (source)
- According to information spread on 27 June 2012, lists of supporters of the United National Movement were creating by public servants across Guria. Respective instructions were given by the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Ramaz Nikolaishvili to the Guria region governor who, in turn, passed them to the heads of the local representative and executive bodies. (source)
- According to the information spread on 4 July 2012, in Kutaisi, chairpersons of local apartment partnerships are collecting information about inhabitants: their ID numbers, birth dates, places of work and political affiliations. Such instructions were given to them by territorial units of Kutaisi’s Office of Mayor. Issues related to this kind of census are discussed with employees of the Municipality who receive their instructions from the United National Movement. (source)
- According to information spread on 24 May 2012, in Ozurgeti, the Deputy Head of the Local Executive body (Gamgeoba) instructed his employees to make a list of the United National Movement supporters (you can find the full version of the covert audio recording here). TI Georgia has repeatedly appealed to the interdepartmental commission of the National Security Council on this matter but no reaction has followed so far. (source)
We believe that such activities may indicate that there is a generally alarming tendency to misuse administrative resources during the pre-election period, challenging the very existence of a fair and competitive pre-election environment. Accordingly, we refer:
- To the Interdepartmental Commission of the National Security Council on Free and Fair Elections to investigate the abovementioned facts and react appropriately.
- To the Office of the Procurator-General to investigate whether there are signs of a violation of Article 322 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, in particular the misuse of official authority.
- To the Government of Georgia to ensure that political parties’, society and state interests are protected, not to allow repetition of similar actions in the future and to take appropriate measures to ensure fair and competitive pre-election environment.