In advance of parliamentary by-elections set for April 27, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Free and Fair Elections has started up its work again, as required by Georgia`s electoral code. Operating under the auspices of the National Security Council, the IATF is mandated to help prevent and react to electoral-code violations.
The Task Force is headed by the Secretary of the NSC. The IATF includes representatives from the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Justice, Regional Development and Infrastructure, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Education and Science, and Health, Labour, and Social Affairs, as well as from the office of the National Security Council.
In the context of the the 2012 parliamentary elections, the IATF was established on May 18 and worked until October 31. During this period, the IATF issued numerous statements and recommendations and responded to reports of electoral code violation. The IATF cooperated with all stakeholders involved in the election process.
Contact Person: Nino Imedashvili
| 11 Mar. '13
At the IATF meeting held on 11 March, in which representatives of political parties and local and international monitoring organizations participated, problems identified during the current pre-election period were discussed.
| 28 Feb. '13
On 18 February, IATF has started up its work again for the Parliamentary by-elections to be held on 27 April, as required by Georgia's electoral code.
| 18 Feb. '13
The IATF issued its final report about the 2012 parliamentary elections covering the period from the establishment of the Task Force on May 18, 2012, through October 31, 2102. The final report includes information on IATF procedures, on its recommendations, and on the monitoring and implementation of those recommendations. It also includes details of individual cases that were brought to the attention of the IATF by stakeholders, as well as via the IATF’s own media monitoring.
The final report includes recommendations on improving the electoral environment that it made in advance of the October 2012 parliamentary elections and that also are relevant for the upcoming 2013 presidential election.
In order to further improve the electoral environment for the 2013 presidential election, the IATF presents the following recommendations:
1. The IATF supports the practice of public debates among candidates, which in the most recent elections were organized by the Public Broadcaster. Thematic debates facilitate a meaningful exchange of ideas between candidates and parties, allowing the public to make a more informed choice.
2. According to media monitoring conducted by the EU and UNDP in the context of the parliamentary elections, and pursuant to an assessment by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Georgian Public Broadcaster was the only media outlet that ensured balanced coverage of the election campaign. As such, it the IATF recommends that no substantial revisions be made to legislation regulating the Public Broadcasters unless it further advances the channel's editorial independence.
3. During the parliamentary election campaign, media groups created or controlled by political parties intentionally stirred tensions rather than objectively covering the campaign, and as a result interfered with numerous campaign events. In order to advance a pluralist, free, fair, and peaceful presidential election campaign, the IATF calls on political parties to refrain from such practices in the future.
4. The IATF believes that complex revisions to electoral legislation—as opposed to technical changes—should not be made prior to the May 2014 local self-government elections, in order to ensure sufficient time for consultations among key stakeholders and to effectively implement any such changes.
5. The IATF calls on the group working on election reform to revise the Election Code provision that gives military conscripts, as well as members of Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs special units, the right participate in majoritarian elections that occur in their military service location. It also is important to revise the existing practice whereby civilian employees of the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs vote in special precincts; instead, they should cast their ballots only in ordinary election precincts. The right to vote in special election precincts should be granted only to individuals in long-term military service. There working group should establish clearer criteria defining which special-unit members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs can vote in special precincts due to restrictions in disclosing their location on election day;
6. The IATF recommends that regulations on party financing be improved in order to avoid misinterpretations of the relevant legislation. The legislation should provide a full list of what will be deemed violations of campaign finance laws, together with the relevant sanctions. The sanctions should be proportionate and effective. The State Audit Service should continue to improve the methodology and procedures by which it monitors party finances, including in the improvement of how it imposes sanctions;
8. It is critical for the Civil Registry, the Commission on Establishment of Unified Voters’ List, and other relevant agencies to continue their cooperation in updating voter databases in a timely manner;
9. The IATF calls on the Ministry of Finance to suspend—during election campaigns—its practice of redistributing (for social purposes) illegal property that has been seized by the government in order to avoid the perception that such actions constitute abuse of administrative resources. When it is necessary to redistribute such property it should be done via charitable organizations, orphanages, and other agencies under the authority of the State Care Agency.
10. In light of experience gained during the 2012 parliamentary elections, the IATF calls on the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Protection, to suspend—during the course of the next electoral cycle—its reassessments of whether citizens who already qualify for social aid, and who are tus registered in the relevant databases, should continue to receive such benefits.
11. The IATF calls on public school administrations, administrative agencies, and heads of their subordinate bodies to suspend— during the pre-election period—planned or potential employee layoffs and to take such actions only in cases of disciplinary or other violations.
12. The IATF recommends that political parties continue their consultations in order to agree on a unified electoral code of conduct that reduces confrontations among activists during the pre-election period, and that also facilitates coordinated planning of parallel campaign events.
13. The IATF recommends that training continue of local government officials in how to implement electoral legislation.
14. The Central Election Commission should continue programs that aim to minimize problems related to inadequate of the state language in regions that have large populations of ethnic minorities and to ensure the full participation of ethnic minorities in the election process.
| 30 Sep. '12
The police were notified about the disappearance of a 10-month-old infant, Barbare Rapaliani, from a house in the village of Kolaga, (Gurjaani district, Kakheti). At the time of the disappearance, the mother, father and grandmother were at home. During the first conversation, the family members said that no unknown person had been seen around the house. The police immediately started searching, together with the family members. The child was soon found in an amphora half full of water in the courtyard of the house. The child was taken to the hospital, but despite the best efforts of medical staff, the child could not be revived.
The Ministry of Interior expresses its sincerest condolences to the family and will do its utmost to investigate the case.
| 30 Sep. '12
On September 20, 2012, the IATF addressed media outlets and reminded them of the provision of the Election Code of Georgia which regulates the coverage of the public opinion poll results, including exit polling conducted on election day.
| 30 Sep. '12
In order to timely receive information about the ongoing electoral process on Election Day, on 1 October a hot line will work at the IATF. Political parties, NGOs and citizens will be able to contact the IATF by the following telephone numbers:
2 28 77 08
It is also possible to provide information to IATF through the web-forum:
| 10 Sep. '12
Ongoing election campaign issues were the focus of the Sep. 10 IATF meeting with political parties and observer organizations.
The IATF reviewed with participants the recommendation it had adopted regarding the posting of campaign materials which called for expanding areas designated for this purpose by local self-governments. The IATF sought to better understand from the political parties represented whether they been experiencing problems in posting outdoor election ads.
The representatives of New Rights and the Christian-Democrats spoke about the problems they had faced in this respect, while the Georgian Dream representative invoked the issue of the availability of outdoor ad space. Georgian Dream also raised the question of expanding the authority of the IATF to address politically motivated dismissals from the private sector as well as from the public sector. The National Movement representative highlighted disruptions at their campaign events by Georgian Dream supporters and certain media outlets.
Civil society representatives discussed cases identified by their monitoring, including the use of websites to support the ruling party by certain municipalities; on Sep. 10, the IATF adopted a recommendation on this issue and forwarded the case file to the Central Election Commission for further action.
According to its chairman, the IATF will investigae all issues raised during the meeting. He also updated participants on matters raised in meetings and that the IATF had investigated.
The meeting was attended by the National Movement, Coalition Georgian Dream, the Christian-Democrats, New Rights, the National-Democrats, Georgian Dasi, and the European-Democrats, as well as by representatives of the OSCE, IRI, NDI, and IFES, who joined as observers.
During the meeting, participants agreed on the agenda for their next pre-election meeting.
| 08 Sep. '12
On August 31, the IATF informed the Central Election Commission on the participation of a person in United National Movement shirt in the distribution process of state program food to disaster victims in Telavi.
To study the matter, the election administration has sent its representative to Telavi city. While Telavi municipality deputy governor Vajha Zuroshvili stated that the person in the United National Movement shirt came to collect the assistance and he only helped other beneficiaries to reload the products, the Election Administration concluded that there has been a violation of Article 88 of the Election Code, namely, abuse of administrative resources or official powers during pre-election campaign.
The chairman of Telavi circuit election commission drew up the protocol of administrative violation on the fact, based on which, by the decision of Telavi District Court of September 7, Telavi municipality deputy governor was fined in the amount of GEL 2000.
| 21 Aug. '12
On August 17, the IATF provided the Central Election Commission with information about several cases in which the ruling party’s campaign materials were present in administrative buildings.
Based on media reports dating to August 16, the IATF found that National Movement campaign materials were present in the local administrative office of the village of Chalaubani in the Kakheti region, and in the office of the head of the Rustavi City Hall Military Service.
After investigating the Chalaubani case, the head of the Gurjaani District Election Commission issued an administrative offence notice. The Gurjaani District Court subsequently fined the head of the local administration of Chalaubani 1000 GEL.
An administrative offence notice also was issued in the Rustavi City Hall Military Service. The case has been sent to the Rustavi City Court.
On August 17, the IATF recommended that local authorities and national agencies restrict the presence of the party materials in their offices.
| 17 Aug. '12
The IATF held its latest in a series of regular meetings with political parties and monitoring organizations to discuss issues related to the electoral environment.
Participants offered their views and remarks on the ongoing election campaign. Representatives of both Georgian Dream and the National Movement highlighted difficulties they have encountered in holding campaign meetings. The issue of the parties’ activities during national holidays also was discussed. The IATF offered political parties mediation in providing coordination during this type of meetings.
NGO representatives highlighted the importance of signing the agreed-up version of the Code of Conduct, which reflects the ruling party’s proposals on the non-use of hate speech in the campaign and the recognition of the elections results.
Representatives of the National Movement, the Georgian Dream Coalition, the Christian Democrats, New Rights, the Labor Party, the National Democrats, the Georgian Group, the European Democrats, and the Christian Democratic People’s Party participated in this meeting of the IATF. Representatives of IRI, NDI, and IFES took part as observers.
The next such enlarged meeting with political parties and observer organizations is planned for the end of August.