The Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (ITAF) was informed by observer organizations that particular ministries and other government agencies, as well as some heads of administrative bodies in the regions, are suspected of instructing their employees to compile lists and personal data in support of the National Movement.
The IATF has contacted the ministries and heads of regional administrations in question, which have denied giving any such instructions. At this stage, the IATF has no evidence of such practices. The observer organizations who called the IATF’s attention to this matter have not yet provided the IATF with the names of senior civil servants believed to be involved.
Despite this, the IATF declares that it is forbidden and illegal for senior civil servants to compel their employees to become engaged in the electoral campaign. Such acts are punishable according to the relevant legislation. Civil servants, when not performing official duties, are allowed to be involved in the electoral campaign of any party; further, their participation in political campaigns should be a personal, voluntary choice.
The ITAF calls on state agencies and heads of administrative bodies:
• To take appropriate measures if they have evidence of violations in such cases;
• To clearly explain to civil servants their rights in this regard, including the right to be involved in political/electoral activities outside their official duties, and that their managers are forbidden by law to compel employees to be involved in electoral activities. While the law does not prohibit civil servants holding political posts from discussing electoral issues in general, there should be a clear dividing line between their electoral activities and their assignment of tasks to employees. All government agencies, including those which were targeted by allegations should take measures to guard against such potential violations.
One case the IATF studied relates to a covert video recording of Ilia Vashaymadze, who is acting local governor of the Ozurgeti Municiplaity. The ITAF contacted the acting governor, members of the local government, and the office of the National Movement. Mr. Vashaymadze has explained to the IATF that since his appointment he has held regular meetings with local residents and, separately, with party activists. He explained that, in the former instances, he is acting in his capacity as a governor, and, in the latter instances, as the district head of the National Movement.
Mr. Vashaymadze could not specify the exact date of the video recording, but he explained that it was related to a meeting that was held in the party office. He explained that such meetings are held regularly to address election tactics and other organizational issues. According to the acting governor, the compilation of lists was related to the mobilization of National Movement supporters by party activists and was intended only for use by the party.
The IATF found that there was a basis for legitimate doubt since the governor asked participants in the meeting not to publicize the contents of their discussions. In his conversation with the IATF, the acting governor explained that he did not want information about pre-election campaign planning to be leaked to competitors.
The IATF has concluded that the video recording does not offer evidence of employees being obliged to engage in political activities. As the acting governor explained, he was communicating with persons who were in his confidence and he identified these party activists.
Nonetheless, the IATF recommends to the Ozurgeti Municipality:
• To explain to every employee that involvement in the electoral campaign outside their official duties should be voluntary and no one has the right to compel them to act for or against any party.
The ITAF declares its readiness to receive additional information from individuals involved in the electoral process about the misuse of administrative resources by civil servants and to react accordingly to specific evidence of violations of the law.
Contact details for the secretariat of the Inter-agency Task Force
Contact Person: Nino Imedashvili
Tel.: 2 28 77 08; 2 74 49 20; 599 48 70 47
Hot Line:577 63 02 92