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Human Rights Center’s Conclusive Information about October 27 Presidential Elections

28.10.2013

 
Human Rights Center monitors Presidential Elections in eight regions of Georgia: Kakheti, Imereti, Shida Kartli, Kvemo Kartli, Adjara, Guria, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Samegrelo. On October 27, 75 observers of the organization are mobilized in the towns and villages of 29 districts throughout Georgia.

According to the information provided by the Human Rights Center’s observers, presidential elections were conducted in peaceful and fair environment. Minor violations detected in the precincts, where the organization’s observers monitored the polling process, cannot impact the election results. It is noteworthy that some violations, which could not impact the election results, were eradicated by the PEC members based on the remarks of our observers. Their complaints mostly referred to the lack of ballot papers in precincts.

Most violations observed by the observers was caused by incompetence of the commission members and lack of knowledge of election procedures rather than their attempt to fraud the elections and partiality towards any election subject. Human Rights Center believes the CEC shall pay more attention to the education and training of the election commission members.

Human Rights Center observes the Presidential Elections with financial assistance of the Open Society Georgia – Foundation, US Embassy of Georgia and National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The projects aim to monitor pre-election process and the Election Day. Part of observers will stay in precincts all day long on October 27; but we also have mobile groups of observers, who visit several precincts throughout the day.

Human Rights Center will reflect the detailed statistics of the observed violations in the reports produced in the frame of relevant projects. However, we can already declare that few violations observed during presidential elections cannot influence the election results.

On behalf of Human Rights Center, election expert Nina Khatiskatsi monitors the election in Tbilisi. In addition to that, she trained observers of Human Rights Center on election procedures. Representatives of international organization Norwegian Helsinki Committee also monitor the elections on behalf of the Human Rights Center.

Journalistic component is significant part of the Human Rights Center’s projects. Our online magazine www.humanrights.ge systematically publishes publications about ongoing pre-election processes and violations prepared by our correspondents in different regions of Georgia. Humanrights.ge actively works on the Election Day and updates the society about violations which are observed by our monitors in different districts. 

The Gravest Violation

In Kvareli, Chikaani village precinct # 14, PEC Chairman Ivane Sepiashvili and other commission members verbally and physically assaulted accredited journalist, editor-in-chief of the Information Center of Kakheti Gela Mtivlishvili. We are concerned that CEC did not adequately respond to the fact of interference into the professional activities of the journalist. Just the opposite, the CEC Spokesperson Eka Azarashvili spread unverified information alleging Gela Mtivlishvili was video-recording election documentation, for what he was demanded to leave the precinct. Human Rights Center’s observer studied the video-footage made by Gela Mtivlishvili, which clearly shows that journalist did not try to video-record the election documentation. The Commission Chairman aggressively met him from the very beginning and prohibited to video-record the precinct (though journalist had permission under the law); then the chairman insulted and expelled Mtivlishvili from the precinct by force. 

Human Rights Center addresses to the CEC to impartially study the incident in Chikaani PEC # 14 and adequately react on illicit activities of the PEC Chairman and members. At the same time, Human Rights Center appeals to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office to start investigation into illicit interference in the professional activities of the journalist under Article 154 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.

Main tendencies

We have not observed organized delivery of voters to election precincts by mini-buses and their control by the coordinators of political parties that was common problem during previous elections; in most cases similar facts hindered the polling process. So-called coordinators of the United National Movement were particularly active in this direction during previous elections; Human Rights Center evaluated this fact as oppression on observers. We appreciate that neither former nor acting ruling party use massive mobilization of voters at the October 27 Presidential Elections.

Number of special election precincts was significantly reduced and MIA and Defense Ministry timely informed the society about it. Military servants and big part of MIA officers were allowed to vote according to their residential places. Declaring a high alert in military units was sort of tendency during previous elections for what officers of law enforcement agencies could not vote according to their registration places. In parallel to it, in the special election precincts, where they votes, the former ruling party United National Movement used to gain 100% of votes. Observers of Human Rights Center monitored the polling process in two special precincts in military units where elections were held without violations in accordance to the procedural norms. 

Lack of ballot papers is still a problem of the election process; this violation was observed during last year parliamentary elections. Commission members state that meager insufficiency of ballot papers will not hinder the process because they do not expect 100% activity of voters in PSs. Human Rights Center does not agree with this allegation and suggest the CEC to eradicate this problem.   

Like during past elections, we observed representatives of unknown nongovernmental organizations, who cannot name the year when their NGO was founded and who is its chairperson. Supposedly, these “observers” represent satellite organizations of different election subjects. Although it is not violation of the law, it casts doubt over the fairness of the election process. 

Human Rights Center did not change its tradition and pays particular attention to the polling process in the villages of ethnic minorities in Kakheti and Kvemo Kartli. Elections were held in peaceful and fair environment in the villages, where previously voters were deprived of right to free choice. At the same time, the law activity of voters is noticeable. Except some occasions, which were observed by our observers, voters were not brought to the precincts by mini-buses, particularly oppression in favor of any candidate. 

Our observers are sent in several villages close to the conflict zone in Shida Kartli. The main problem was created by the regime established by the Russian occupation army, for what Citizens of Georgia trapped in the occupied territories did not have chance to cross the de-facto border and participate in the elections. Human Rights Center reported about the blocked de-facto borders a few days ago. 


Observers of Human Rights Center were sent to several penitentiary establishments, where inmates were allowed to make free choice.

Violations and Shortcomings

Observers of Human Rights Center reported from several precincts that election subjects had two representatives in one precinct. Human Rights Center states that presence of two representatives of one election subject in election precincts is wrong interpretation of the Article 42 of the Election Coda. It breaches the requirement of the Article 8 Part 15 of the same code, which states that each election subject can have one representative at the precinct. Wrong interpretation of the Article 42 of the Election Code by the CEC is caused by the fact that CEC refers to the presidential elections as parliamentary elections and does not consider that political party or election block is not election subject in the presidential elections but the presidential candidate of the political party or initiative group. Thus, it is violation to allow two representatives of political parties and election blocks to be in the election commission.

In Tamarisi village, Marneuli district, mini-bus is moving from the early morning in PEC # 21 and brings voters to the PS. Human Rights Center’s observer reported about it. “This mini-bus has been bringing voters to the PS from early morning and then returns back. We tried to talk with the driver but he said he is a volunteer and nobody pays money to him for the transportation of voters; he does not serve any political party either. Simply, it was his kind will to assist his neighbors to get to the precinct.” Observer from the Human Rights Center said that observer from the Georgian Dream several times approached the mini-bus and talked with the voters getting out of the bus and the driver. It is noteworthy that voters are most active in this precinct unlike other precincts of Marenuli district. 300 voters have already participated in the polls there whilst voters are very passive in other precincts and their number has reached only 100. Our observers tried to find out the situation with the commission chairperson. He said the population is brought to the precinct from Svaneti district because it is located far from the precinct. Commission chairperson said he does not know who organized the transportation of the voters.

An incident occurred in the polling station # 1 in Kareli DEC # 33. Commission chairperson Manana Tsotsolashvili did not allow an observer of the Transparency International – Georgia to write a complaint. Chairperson is member of the Georgian Dream. Observer was going to write a complaint about insufficient number of ballot papers. Observer of the Human Rights Center informed us about it. “Commission member was shouting at the observer and did not allow her to write a complaint. Then CM was called on the phone and supposedly suggested to allow the observer to write a complaint. Afterwards, TI – Georgia’s observer wrote a complaint.

Several commission members were not included in the special list at Polling Station # 83 in Zugdidi district. The Commission chairperson said he would write the names of the commission members in the list. Despite the protest of the observers, the chairperson added commission members’ names in the special list. Human Rights Center’s observer Tamar Lukava reported that she filed a complaint and informed the Central Election Commission about it. “CEC promised to immediately eradicate the problem; they will arrive at the PS, draw up a protocol and remove the handwritten names from the list.

One more shortcoming observed during the ongoing presidential elections is annulment of the ballot papers, where all presidential candidates are crossed; in similar ballot papers voters demonstrate their protest to every candidate. According to the acting law, similar ballot papers will be annulled during counting process that will significantly damage the general statistics of the voters’ will. It is a step back because during previous elections voters were allowed to demonstrate their protest and there was a special column in the final protocol, where the number of votes vs everybody was also recorded.

Human Rights Center 
 

Projects on Monitoring of Election Processes in Georgia were funded through Democracy Commission Small Grants Program of the US Embassy in Georgia, by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Open Society - Georgia Foundation. 
 
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