Commission for Studying Dismissals on Alleged Grounds of Political Belief Presented its Report

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) has been a member of the Commission for the Study of Dismissals of Employees of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia Territorial Agencies – Education Resource-Centers and Public Schools on Grounds of Political Belief since the day it was founded. On May 5, 2015, the Commission presented its final report. 

Following the October 1, 2012 elections in Georgia and the formation of the new government, hundreds of people applied to the Ministry of Education of Georgia requesting a probe into illegal decisions of their dismissal. Because this is an important large-scale problem, Minister of Education and Science at that time decided to set up a commission that would be structurally and functionally independent from the Ministry and would study claims filed with the Ministry.

Members of the commission included the office of the Public Defender of Georgia and 7 civil society organizations, including ISFED.

At the initial stage the commission examined 830 claims, which included both individual and collective complaints, as well as letters from various governmental and non-governmental organizations addressed to the Ministry. Because they fell short of applicable requirements, 500 complaints were found flawed while 279 complaints were referred back to the Ministry as they fell outside the scope of the Commission’s competencies and the commission started judging 28 complaints on merit.

The commission judged total of 305 complaints on merit (including 28 complaints initially found admissible and 277 complaints initially found flawed but later corrected).

Out of these 305 complaints, the commission found a reason doubt of dismissal on grounds of political belief in 23 cases, identified various violations of law in the process of dismissal in 70 cases, terminated proceedings in 5 cases based on applicant’s refusal to proceed or death of applicant, and rejected claims in 207 cases.

Additionally, the commission identified the following problems in the process of reviewing the complaints:

·        Structural problems: officials of the Ministry, representatives of the Internal Audit Service and Educational Resource Centers interfered with labor relations;

·      Methods of harassment: searches upon entering administrative buildings; forcing to quit by resigning for personal reasons

·        Dismissal of some school principals for poor results in common admission tests (CAT) for students

·        Interference of local self-governments and law enforcement authorities in school activities

·        Interference of the Ministry in distribution of teaching hours

·        Harassment for affiliation with labor unions

Consequently, the commission found dismissals in the education system in 2006-2012 on grounds of political belief, as well as various violations resulting in violation of human rights.

In two years the commission completed unprecedented, large-scale and a challenging work for restoring justice in the education system in Georgia.

ISFED continues to work in this field in frames of the project Protecting Rights of Civil Servants for Politically Neutral and Discrimination-Free Public Service in Georgia funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Georgia.

The goal of the project is to provide legal assistance by providing legal representation in court and preparing legal documents for victims of illegal or discriminatory dismissals in public service.

With its work, ISFED hopes to support the development of politically neutral and discrimination-free public service.