The liquidation of the Zugdidi Municipality bodies are unlawfully unfolding - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

The liquidation of the Zugdidi Municipality bodies are unlawfully unfolding

12 June, 2014

The liquidation process of the Zugdidi Municipality Sakrebulo (local council) and Gamgeoba (local administration) was launched on 20 May 2014, on the basis of Order N317 made by the Chairman of the Zugdidi Municipality Sakrebulo, Levan Konjaria.

Representatives of Transparency International Georgia were told in the Zugdidi Sakrebulo that the Zugdidi Municipality Sakrebulo has received a verbal instruction on issuing the Order, along with its contents, from the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia. However, the Sakrebulo has not received any written or motivated document.

Following the issuance of this Order, all servants of the Zugdidi Municipality Gamgeoba and Sakrebulo were warned about potential dismissals due to the liquidation of the Zugdidi Municipality's local self-government.

Transparency International Georgia has studied the Order of the Sakrebulo Chairman and found it to be unjustified. This Order was based on:

1. Articles 151 and 152 of the Organic Law of Georgia, "Local Self-Government Code".

2. Sub-Paragraph 'a' of Paragraph 3 of Article 43 of the Organic Law of Georgia on the "Local Self-Government".

3. Articles 96, 108 and 109 of the Law of Georgia on the "Civil Service".

We believe that none of the above-listed articles justify the decision made by the Chairman of the Zugdidi Sakrebulo, especially when the Sakrebulo Chairman is not authorized under Georgian legislation to liquidate the Sakrebulo and Gamgeoba.

From the provided legal reasoning, Sub-Paragraph 'a' of Paragraph 3 of Article 43 of the Organic Law of Georgia on "Local Self-Government" refers to the authority of the Sakrebulo Chair to issue legal acts. The wording of this provision defines a form of power granted to the Sakrebulo Chair; however, such power is limited and does not authorize the Sakrebulo Chair to liquidate the Sakrebulo or Gamgeoba.

The above-listed articles of the Law of Georgia on the "Civil Service" provide legal protection guarantees for civil servants during the liquidation, but there is no mention of such authority of the Sakrebulo Chair.

As for Articles 151 and 152 of the Organic Law of Georgia, "Local Self-Government Code", two circumstances are worth noting. Article 151 is not enforced to-date and should be enacted on the day of the official announcement of results of the 2014 local self-government elections.[1] Accordingly, applying this Article is impossible. Additionally, Article 152 of the same Code concerns territorial optimization of municipalities. The Article regulates the powers and activities of the Government Commission for Regional Development of Georgia, set up by the 28 September 2010 Resolution N297 of the Government of Georgia, throughout the optimization process. Therefore, it is equally impossible for this norm to authorize the Sakrebulo Chair to liquidate the Zugdidi Municipality Sakrebulo and Gamgeoba.

Furthermore, it is interesting that the effective Law of Georgia on the Local Self-Government defines the powers of the Sakrebulo Chair as being the head of a self-government unit and the Sakrebulo. None of the provisions of the Law allows the Sakrebulo Chair to initiate and carry out the liquidation of either the Sakrebulo or Gamgeoba by his/her own order, especially when the Sakrebulo is an elective body and its trust mandate does not depend on the orders of the Sakrebulo Chair. The possibility of allowing such precedent deprives the election of Sakrebulo members of its significance from the very beginning.

Other municipalities have also received a recommendation from the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia to liquidate the Sakrebulo and Gamgeoba in a similar form. We find that this practice contradicts the law. Furthermore, the employees were warned about their potential dismissals in these municipalities. We believe that the unlawful liquidation process has grossly violated the legal interests and rights of civil servants employed in the municipality.

The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia must give to the affected municipalities, by optimization under the self-government reform, the written motivated instructions on the launch of reorganization and not that of liquidation procedures. Georgian legislation does not provide for the liquidation of a municipality based on the act issued by the Sakrebulo Chair. Accordingly, the current practice is illegal and it will potentially damage the interests of public servants employed in the municipalities.

Based on the above, Transparency International Georgia urges the Zugdidi Municipality Sakrebulo to invalidate the 20 May 2014 Order N317 of the Chairman of the Zugdidi Municipality Sakrebulo, Levan Konjaria, which is one of the first precedents of illegal liquidation of  municipality bodies


[1] Local Self-Government Code, Article 167, Paragraph 2.