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Sanctions for election violations

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, May 25
Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, is initiating tighter sanctions regarding violence during political and electoral processes.

He commissioned the Minister of Justice to draft a relevant bill.

The PM’s initiative comes after a clash at one of polling stations in the western Samegrelo region, which left opposition leaders and party supporters beaten.

“I condemn the violence which occurred near one of the polling stations in Samegrelo during the by-elections for Sakrebulos (local councils). This inflicted major damage upon the state image. An investigation has already been launched, and I expect the Ministry of Internal Affairs to indicate all alleged perpetrators of the violence who will be punished to the fullest extent,” the PM said.

The PM stressed that existing legislation does not foresee any relevant punishment for this kind of offence.

“Hence, I would like to assign the Ministry of Justice to elaborate relevant legislative amendments and present them during the upcoming Cabinet Session. Respective draft clauses shall provide for the stricter sentences for violence during political and electoral processes,” Kvirikashvili said.

The PM stated that the government would not permit violence in the electoral process.

“We will strictly punish the perpetrators of such crimes. We aim to ensure adherence to democratic standards in the electoral process. Citizens shall be enabled to make a choice, and all political actors shall be provided with a calm and competitive electoral environment,” said the PM.

It is good that the Prime Minister admitted that the existent legislation lacks levers to address election violations and that it would be better for the police to act better where a clash erupted between the supporters of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) and their Georgian Dream rivals. After the clash, both sides said their opponents were guilty of “staging a provocation”.

The most unwelcome fallout came in the lack of effective police actions; so far, the MIA has not provided an explanation as to why the police failed to calm the situation.

Each government body and its leader must be responsible for the actions (or inaction) of his/her staff.