Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections (IATF) at the National Security Council has called on the state agencies and public schools to suspend any possible “optimization” and layoffs in order to avoid linkage, whether justified or not, of this process to politics ahead of the October parliamentary elections.
Following series of meetings with watchdog organizations IATF, a group composed of senior government officials, established two weeks ago to monitor and react on possible electoral violations, said in a statement on May 31 that during the discussions concerns had been raised over cases of alleged politically-motivated dismissals of public sector employees.
In its pre-election monitoring report, covering the period between April 1 and May 4, Tbilisi-based watchdog International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) reported about, among other issues, ten cases of alleged politically-motivated dismissals. In all ten cases, individuals concerned stated that they had been fired because of their affiliation with Bidzina Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream opposition coalition. Six individuals out of ten concerned in these cases were public school teachers, according to ISFED report.
“It is unacceptable and illegal to fire public servants due to their political views or those of their family members,” IATF said in a statement, adding that all the cases in which such politically-motivated signs may be present should be examined.
“At the same time, it should also be noted that legitimate process of optimization and layoffs might be taking place in various state agencies and often it may be difficult to establish authentic facts about real motives behind dismissals,” IATF said.
It said that in order to prevent allegations, “justified or groundless”, about politically-motivated dismissals ahead of the October parliamentary elections, IATF “recommends administrative organs, their subordinated agencies, as well as principals of public schools to suspend any planned or possible optimization process at this stage in the view of electoral process and to take a relevant decision [about dismissals] only in case of a disciplinary or other violations.”
According to the election code, IATF is mandated with “preventing of and reacting to violations of electoral legislature by public officials.”
Political parties, which will notify the commission about alleged violations, will have the right to take part in IATF’s sittings, according to the election code. Representatives from local and international election observer organization can also be invited to the commission sittings.
In case of violations, the inter-agency task force will “recommend” state agencies or CEC to take “relevant actions in a reasonable timeframe,” according to the election code.