Response to the midterm report of the Interagency Task Force - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Response to the midterm report of the Interagency Task Force

24 October, 2013

The Interagency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF),  under the coordination of the Ministry of Justice, has published a midterm report of its activities. Under issue number three, the document mentions Transparency International Georgia's study on the public office staffing policy, which was presented to the Task Force by the United National Movement, noting that the dismissal of the staff was politically motivated.

At IATF’s September 2 session, the representative of our organization clarified that the report had not reached such conclusions, and that the suspicion that the staff dismissal was based on political motives only emerged in individual cases. Also, it was noted by us that this study had no immediate connection to the Presidential elections, and fell beyond the interests of the Task Force. Therefore, this topic should have been dropped from the agenda. Despite this, our study still appeared in the midterm report of the Task Force and is negatively characterized. Accordingly, we find it necessary to respond to the comments of the Interagency Task Force and to present our position.

Firstly, it is unclear why the Interagency Task Force is interested in the statistical data presented in the study and not by the individual cases, which concerned the possible dismissal of people based on political motives. It would be logical if the Task Force responded to these concrete cases and not to general numbers, which are not directly linked to the harassment of people based on political motives. Unfortunately, the Task Force decided to comment only on numbers, and even presented unclear assessments in this regards.

The report of the Task Force notes that the study of Transparency International Georgia had defects in regards to the Ministry of Justice, as the organization did not adequately study the information provided by the Ministry and presented the number of appointed and dismissed employees incorrectly.

It should be noted, that after being addressed by the Ministry of Justice, certain data was corrected only with regards to one institution –  the Ministry of Justice, however this does not mean that we did not initially study the documents adequately or that we made an error. The initial numbers were also based on information provided by the Ministry. However, the total number of employees who left the Ministry, of new employees appointed in the Ministry and of employees re-appointed to different positions, was not included.

We have studied the orders of appointment to a position and dismissal from a position, and found that in some cases a person with the same name and last name was dismissed from one position but appointed to a position in another institution at the same time. Their full identification was impossible, however, as the orders did not contain personal identification numbers, and the name and last name alone are insufficient for identification.  

The report of the Task Force also notes that the numbers of the Ministry of Interior were correct, however, the data was presented to the public in a manner that ignored the number and quantity of people employed at the Ministry of Interior, namely, the number of employees dismissed from the entire system of the Ministry did not exceed 2.3% in the reporting period.

It should be noted that Transparency International Georgia addressed this question to the Ministry at the time of the study, however, no response was issued by the Ministry. Therefore, we would not have been aware of such information. It is also worth noting, that the Ministry of Interior responded to our letter after 5 months, while public information should have been made available within 10 days, as stated in the law. Furthermore, the response was incomplete and only 3 out of our initial 13 questions were answered. Based on the above mentioned reasons, we find it quite inappropriate for the Ministry of Interior to have any complaints towards our study.

The Midterm report of the Interagency Task Force also notes that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs first addressed the non-governmental organization with a public statement and later with a written complaint noting the inaccuracies in the study.

We carefully studied the statements of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs and we want to note that most of their comments did not reflect the reporting period of our study. While the second part of the comments included some explanations regarding the dismissal of the employees, this was in no way in conflict with the findings of our study. Therefore, it is unclear to us what is meant by “inaccuracy”.

Another unclear comment in the Midterm Report of the Interagency Task Force concerns the Ministry of Defense. According to the document, 352 civil employees were dismissed and 508 were appointed in the Ministry of Defense system (according to the study, 690 and 1116, accordingly).

The numbers published by us are based on the official information provided by the Ministry of Defense, can be seen clearly in the letter itself. Accordingly, if there was any inaccuracy in these numbers, this implies that there were problems with the Ministry’s release of public information, and is in no way an indication of our error.  

In the Task Force report, claims similar to those by the Ministry of Defense are made by the Ministry of Education, however, similarly, the numbers presented in the study are based on information released by the Ministry.

And finally, the report notes that, “generally, all ministries noted that there were many inaccuracies in the study”. However, unfortunately, no concrete examples of such inaccuracies are presented, which apparently are noted by “all ministries”. We believe that such general statements are manifestations of irresponsibility and aim to discredit our study.

We call upon the Interagency Task Force to make the appropriate corrections in the final report of its activities based on the above mentioned arguments, to attach our comments to the appropriate part of the report, or to base its opinions, presented in the midterm report, on substantial arguments.