Statement by the Elections Subgroup of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform

28 Sep, 2012

Statement by the Elections Subgroup of the

 Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform



September 28, 2012



The Georgian National Platform has stated its position in regard to the challenges of the electoral process already several times over the past months. The statement adopted at the conference held by the National Platform on  September 15 of this year expresses concern about the growing polarization and tension characterizing the electoral process and emphasizes the responsibilities of various parties, especially the authorities, in this regard.

Unfortunately, the situation has grown even tenser in the days leading up to the election. The campaign environment as a whole has worsened and the space for issues-based campaigning and debate – which is crucially important for the democratic process – has shrunk.

In this regard, the following factors are of particular concern for the member organizations of the National Platform:


1.      Tens of cases of the detention of civic and political activists in Tbilisi and elsewhere in Georgia over the past few days and the leveling of administrative penalties against them. It should be noted that the majority of the detained activists are affiliated to opposition parties.

2.      Growing tension between supporters of political parties, which has frequently led to physical confrontation. It is especially alarming that in a number of cases state administrative or law-enforcement officials have taken part in such actions while in other cases they have taken no action to defuse tension or prevent such actions.

3.      The approval by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) on  September 24 of additional regulations to the electoral code which unjustifiably restrict photo and video recording at polling stations on election day and thus hinder the work of journalists and election monitors and significantly reduce the transparency of the election. In spite of demands by nongovernmental and media organizations, the CEC refused to overturn the resolution establishing the new regulations and the court rejected a relevant appeal submitted by nongovernmental organizations.

4.      The criminal practice of torturing prisoners and subjecting them to inhuman treatment in the Georgian penitentiary system, which has once more been exposed, this time by the airing in the media of videos showing specific acts of torture and which has caused legitimate outrage in society.


The National Platform calls for an impartial and thorough investigation into these cases and the prosecution and holding to political and criminal accountability of all persons – irrespective of their position- who were involved in establishing, carrying out and covering up this practice in the prisons system. The steps taken thus far by the authorities are not sufficient and cannot be considered an adequate reaction, a fact which further escalates pre-election tensions and public anxiety. Alongside the launch of a comprehensive investigation, a long-term monitoring system should be elaborated for both the prisons system and the criminal justice and law-enforcement system as a whole in order to prevent the practice of violating human rights and perpetrating violence. The National Platform declares its readiness to take part in civilian monitoring of these systems and in so doing facilitate fundamental reforms aimed at ensuring compliance with democratic standards and European practices. The National Platform also notes the role of the incoming parliament in both investigatory and monitoring processes.

5.      The considerably increased use of unhealthy methods of political  competition of late, including the publication of compromising secret footages on political opponents, which, in a number of cases, is linked to the use of administrative resources by the state. This tendency creates an unhealthy environment, escalates polarization, increases the danger of civil confrontation, negatively affects both domestic political processes and foreign relations, and further increases tension in the electoral process.

6.      Despite repeated demands from civil society, the media and citizens, the authorities have not been able to use legal mechanisms to extend the current diverse media environment past election day. Two such mechanisms would be the extension of the “must carry/must offer” regulations through legislative changes and the distribution private TV stations’ satellite antennas, which has not happened despite the Interagency Taskforce’s stated position in this regard.

Accordingly, in the short time remaining before the election, as well as on election day and after the polls, the Georgian National Platform calls on:

  • The Government to fairly and objectively consider the issue of cancelling the administrative punishments imposed on political and civil activists in the pre-election period and use particular caution in applying such measures in the future.
  • Political actors, especially the authorities, to rule out the use of any illegal or violent actions in waging political battle.
  • The authorities to ensure that the voting process proceeds in a calm, transparent and legal manner, as this shall unconditionally guarantee the existence of a stable and fair political environment in the post-election period.
  • The CEC and electoral administration bodies subordinated to it to ensure that the voting process proceeds in a fair and transparent manner on election day and not to hinder the involvement of commission members, representatives of political subjects, local and foreign observers and media representatives.
  • Media representatives to uphold journalistic ethics and professional norms while covering the election process, particularly on election day.
  • Local and foreign observers, including those conducting exit polls, to realize their rights and conduct their activities with a great sense of responsibility and objectivity, taking an account of the peculiarities of the electoral environment.
  • The Government to ensure the fair and unbiased discussion of disputes related to the electoral process.
  • Cable providers to continue carrying the broadcasters covered by the “must carry” principle on election day and the period after the election and accept offers by several TV stations (Maestro, Kavkasia and TV9) to allow them to air their channels for free, and, in so doing, satisfy the high public interest in being able to access diverse media. For its part, civil society is ready to react to any instances of this principle being undermined.