Public Defender’s Office of Georgia says dozens of cases of possible discrimination due to political views have been revealed in various public institutions recently. The ombudsman reports that the pressure was expressed in direct dismissal or resignation, including in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, municipal services, LEPLs established by various municipalities, NNLEs and other public institutions.
Based on the information available to the Public Defender’s Office at this time, 62 employees were subjected to various forms of pressure. Most of them, in a conversation with the representatives of the Public Defender, confirmed pressure and dismissal, and explained the above by kinship, friendship or good relations with members of the party of former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. (It should be noted that several of them, despite confirmation of pressure, refrained from giving their consent to the Public Defender’s Office to examine their cases). The mentioned individuals were fired from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, municipal services, non-commercial legal entities as well as legal entities under public law established by various municipalities, and other public institutions.
Citizens allege that their superiors told them to file applications for resignation, which some agreed to and some did not, although the latter were dismissed anyway, on other grounds. Disciplinary proceedings were launched against some of them.
The above case contains elements of crime under the Criminal Code of Georgia – persecution for political views.
“On August 31, 2021, the Public Defender sent the cases of 34 persons to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia for investigation and response. As the Office receives daily applications and reports of similar incidents, the Public Defender’s Office, after communication with the dismissed persons, will periodically provide additional information on such incidents to the law enforcement agencies and will monitor their response to the cases, and will also examine individual cases of alleged discrimination and violation of the right to work.
“The Public Defender emphasizes that it is inadmissible to persecute people, including to dismiss them, because of their political views or opinions.
“Based on the above, the Public Defender calls on:
- The heads of central and local self-government bodies and other public institutions – not to dismiss or instruct the dismissal of employees due to their political views.
- The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia – to timely investigate the alleged persecution of persons indicated in the letter sent by the Public Defender and to respond to the case appropriately,” reads the statement released by Ombudsman.
Earlier, Former PM Gakharia’s party ‘For Georgia’ claimed that one of the party’s supporter was again threatened by the police and demanded a prompt investigation into the case.
“Supporter of For Georgia (recently arrested by planting a gun) was once again threatened by police. The illegal meeting with the police was organized by his escort on the way from the court to the penitentiary. Asking for the prompt investigation,” stated Natia Mezvrishvili, a member of the party.
Earlier, Gakharia’s party announced that their supporter, Akaki Bartaia, was threatened by the ‘Georgian Dream’ by planting a gun and was arrested by the police.
Bartaia was arrested on August 16 while traveling to Surami for party activities. According to the party representative, Anna Buchukuri, his car was stopped by the police in Mtskheta, and a gun was presumably put in his car during the search by the police.
Reportedly, a few days before his arrest, the ruling party, through Bartaia’s relatives, threatened to detain him if he did not stop his political activities.