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As soon as problems in the judiciary and negative public sentiments towards individual judges became the subject of hot debates, statistical data related to the judiciary became the main message of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, TV Imedi, the High Council of Justice and certain judges. Referring to these indicators, they try to persuade the public that although those judges who were in charge of justice under the previous government still remain in the judiciary, they have become better judges and the improved statistical figures are a testament to this.

The statistical data they name only consists of numbers which are sometimes difficult to be properly understood. This is because the authors of the statements often use different periods to flaunt the figures and, in most cases, they do not even specify the periods they are comparing to each other. In addition, it is frequently unknown what the figures given in their statements imply and to what extent we can make conclusions in regard to the independence and the improvement of the judiciary based on these figures. What is most striking is that the only source of their statement until today is the High Council of Justice’s 2017 Report (which covers the period from June 2013 to May 2017) which contains already quite outdated and, in certain cases, inaccurate information. These grave errors in the report are important since the report was prepared to preserve the institutional memory of the High Council of Justice as it clarified itself. Moreover, this report is seemingly the only document which can measure the efficiency of the so-called waves of reforms in the judiciary which have been enacted by the Georgian Dream since 2013.

Civil society has never failed to pay due attention to the ongoing processes in the judiciary. However, this issue started to become especially critical by the end of 2018 after the High Council of Justice submitted the list of candidates nominated for justices of the Supreme Court of Georgia to the Parliament of Georgia. The Government of Georgia attempted to counter the engulfing criticism with statistical data.

On 22 January 2019, on air on TV Imedi’s broadcast, Pirispir, the anchor opened a debate between a representative of the Coalition for an Independent and Transparent Justice, Giorgi Mshvenieradze, and a judge, Levan Murusidze, with the following foreword: “Since October 2012; that is, after the election, there were two choices before the new government: either dismiss every long-serving judge from the system and carry out repressive purges in the judiciary as it happened under Saakashvili’s government, or introduce a new standard and allow the judiciary to have a chance for independent development. Given what I just said, we can conclude that the Georgian Dream opted for the second way.”

After that statement, the anchor presented different statistical data about the system of the general courts (in accordance with her statement, these are the data which they were able to collect themselves) which are given in Table 1.

In a few days after the aforementioned broadcast on 5 February 2019, the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia political union issued a statement which very much resembled the foreword delivered by the Imedi anchor both in rhetoric and in figures. The statement reads as follows: “The political party, which came to power with the manifested intention of the country’s democratic transformation, despite the attitudes among voters and, to some extent, against their sentiments, rejected the unconstitutional method for transforming the judiciary. We rejected the malicious practice of a revolutionary purge in the system and opted for a difficult albeit the only lawful way for its improvement – by rescinding political pressure, we allowed the judiciary to have self-determination and enable an institution free from political influence to enter the service of law and, at the same time, by introducing legislative safeguards for its institutional independence, we sought to achieve a qualitative improvement of the system.”

On 9 April 2019, in the same broadcast, the Chairman of the Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in order to present the results of the reforms enacted in the judiciary, unveiled figures identical to Imedi TV and the Georgian Dream Political Council’s data.

Table 1: Almost Identical Rhetoric of Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian Dream Political Council and TV Imedi in Regard to the Judiciary

Political Council

(05/02/2019)

Bidzina Ivanishvili

(09/04/2019)

TV Imedi

(22/01/2019)

1

The number of acquittals has increased six-fold

The number of acquittals has increased six-fold

FactCheck’s verdict: MOSTLY TRUE

Number of Acquittals:

2008 - 2011 – 112

2013 - 2016 – 643

A six-fold increase is emphasised in this case, too

2

The number of pre-trial detentions decreased three-fold

The number of pre-trial detentions decreased three-fold

MOSTLY FALSE

3

The number of administrative detentions has decreased three-fold

The number of administrative detentions has decreased three-fold

WITHOUT A VERDICT

Number of Administrative Detentions

2009 - 2012 – 18,288

2013 - 2016 – 5,939

A three-fold decrease is here, too

4

The court bail volume has decreased by 18 times (from GEL 91 million to GEL 5 million)

The court bail volume has decreased by 18 times (from GEL 91 million to GEL 5 million)

MANIPULATION OF FACTS

Total Bail Paid:

2009-2011 – GEL 91 million

2013-2016 – GEL 5 million

5

The volume of imposed fines decreased almost five-fold (from GEL 229 million to GEL 48 million)

The volume of imposed fines decreased almost five-fold (from GEL 229 million to GEL 48 million)

MANIPULATION OF NUMBERS

Total Fines Paid

2009 - 2012 – GEL 229 million

2013 - 2016 – GEL 48 million

6

The number of approval of claims brought against the police and City Park increased 200 times

The number of approval of claims brought against the police and City Park increased 200 times

(WITHOUT A VERDICT)

7

The number of administrative disputes won (they win against government, against ministers) by individuals is 64% whilst the government loses against individuals

(TRUE)

The number of administrative disputes won by individuals in the Supreme Court

2011 – 47%, 2016 – 64%

8

The number of tax disputes won by individuals in the Supreme Court is 73%

(MOSTLY TRUE)

The number of tax disputes won by individuals in the Supreme Court

2011 – 59%, 2016 – 73%

9

The number of lawsuits submitted from Georgia to the European Court of Human Rights decreased 11-fold (from 44,553 to 415)

The number of lawsuits submitted from Georgia to the European Court of Human Rights decreased 11-fold (from 44,553 to 415)

The number of lawsuits submitted to the European Court of Human Rights

2008 - 2011 – 4,463;

2013 - 2016 – 415

FactCheck verified the statements of the Georgian Dream’s chairman. In the research below, we offer a short overview of each of them whilst larger and comprehensive versions are also available by clicking the indicated links.

Statement 1: The number of acquittals has increased six-fold.

FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

The statement, which claims that the number of acquittals has increased six-fold, does not specify exactly the periods from which the data are taken for comparison. At first glance, there is an impression that Mr Ivanishvili’s figures represent a summary of reforms, known as “waves,” and, therefore, are reflections of the current situation (newest data) in the judiciary.

However, as per FactCheck’s observation, the aforementioned statement (as well as other statements about different indicators) is based upon data given in the 2013-2017 Report of the Activities of the High Council of Justice and theperiodsof comparison are four-year spans: 2008-2011 and 2013-2016, respectively (the exact same data as that presented by Imedi TV).[1]

Of note is that the public is not obliged to verify what the author of the statement meant or the base upon which he made his statement. In addition, the public cannot assume that the statement made in April 2019 could be referring to the situation including 2016. Therefore, FactCheck believes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement in regard to the increased number of acquittals ought to be verified in light of the latest data. In addition, we also believe that flaunting absolute figures alone is incorrect and it is necessary to determine the relative numbers in order to better see the picture.

As a result of FactCheck’s processing the data, the following findings were made which eventually determined the verdict of the statement: under the United National Movement’s rule, the number of acquittals was indeed very low (referring to the percentage share). The situation started to improve from 2011 and it is possible to say that 2012 was quite effective in terms of statistical data. Of note is that the trend of the growing number of acquittals was also kept under the Georgian Dream’s rule.

Therefore, the context of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement does correspond to the truth. However, it is hard to say the same in regard to the absolute accuracy of certain factual data he named. As compared to 2012, the number of acquittals increased only four-fold in 2018 and not six-fold (117 acquittals in 2012 and 477 in 2018). To compare six-year periods (referring to 2007-2012 and 2013-2018), the absolute figure increased 4.8 times whilst the number of acquittals did indeed increase six-fold if we compare the average figures of the two six-year periods.

In regard to relative figures, the percentage share of acquittals in the total number of cases concluded after their main hearings did not change in 2018 as compared to 2012 (8.32% in 2012 and 8.27% in 2018). The average figure for the six-year period (it was 1.91 in 2007-2012 and 4.41 in 2012-2018) increased 2.3 times. In addition, the share of acquittals in the total number of judgments increased 2.8 times in 2018 as compared to 2012 whist the average figure for the six-year period increased five-fold.

Statement 2: The number of pre-trial detentions decreased three-fold.

FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is MOSTLY FALSE.

The Georgian Dream’s chairman does not specify the period or the indicator to which he is referring. Based upon indicators and different periods in our analysis, there is not a single case of a three-fold decrease in the number of pre-trial detentions.

If we take the detaining to preventive measures ratio as a share of pre-trial detentions, we will see that the 2018 figure (43.1%) is in fact higher as compared to the 2012 figure (41.9%) by 1.2 percentage points instead of being lower. In regard to a comparison of six-year periods, the average figure under the Georgian Dream’s rule (32.5%) is only 1.5 times less than the same figure (47.6%) of the same period under the United National Movement’s rule.

In addition, the number of approvals of the courts vis-à-vis a prosecutor’s motion to detain a suspect decreased 1.2 times in 2018 as compared to 2012. Of note is that the highest figure under the Georgian Dream’s rule was registered in 2018 (74.5%). In regard to the average figures in the six-year period of the Georgian Dream’s rule (93.6% in 2007-2012 and 65.5% in 2013-2016), it decreased 1.4 times as compared to the same period under the previous government.

Of note is that as compared to the previous government’s rule, the amount of detentions does indeed decline in numbers. However, it is incorrect to flaunt absolute figures alone. In addition, the decrease in both absolute and relative numbers starts from 2011. Therefore, it is difficult to determine which specific reform should claim credit for decreasing these figures.

Statement 3: The number of administrative detentions has decreased three-fold.

FactCheck leaves Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement WITHOUT VERDICT.

In this case, it is again not specified what is meant in terms of the number of administrative detentions or which periods are compared to each other.

If in the number of administrative detentions Bidzina Ivanishvili refers to the percentage share of those individuals who were sentenced to administrative detentions in the total number of individuals with administrative penalties in general, then we will see that the figure for 2018 decreased 2.8 times as compared to 2012. Of note is that in 2018 as compared to the previous year, the administrative detentions to administrative penalties ratio increased by 2.74 percentage points. If we compare the average figure (5.52%) under the Georgian Dream to the average figure (16.69%) of the same period of the United National Movement’s rule, we will see that the aforementioned ratio has indeed decreased precisely three-fold. However, presenting figures in this manner is not appropriate because it does not allow for the possibility to adequately see the picture.

Of note is that the Administrative Offences Code of Georgia envisions detention as a punishment for 23 types of offences. Therefore, whilst speaking about the number of administrative detentions, it would be more relevant to measure the share of administrative detentions in the number of penalties used for the aforementioned offences only. However, as clarified by the Supreme Court of Georgia, data are not processed in this manner.

Of note is that since 2012, the absolute figure of administrative detentions has also been experiencing a sharp decline. The average figure for 2013-2018 decreased 3.5 times as compared to the average figure for 2007-2012. However, in turn, it is interesting to know what the decrease in the number of administrative detentions could indicate. However, we believe that flaunting the absolute figures only (number of people who were sentenced with administrative detention) is not correct and we cannot look at the statement from that angle alone.

In addition, we would like to emphasise the fact that the High Council of Justice’s report, which perhaps is the basis of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement, whilst in TV Imedi’s case it is definitely a source, contained errors. In particular, there is a discrepancy between the data FactCheck requested from the Supreme Court of Georgia and those given in the report. If in accordance with the report, administrative detentions in 2009-2012 were sentenced to 18,228 individuals, this number is 16,252 in accordance with the Supreme Court’s data. Of note is that the data for 2013-2016 do match with each other. In particular, administrative detention was sentenced to 5,939 persons in that period in accordance with both sources.

Statement 4: The court bail volume has decreased by 18 times (from GEL 91 million to GEL 5 million).

FactCheck concludes that this statement is a MANIPULATION OF FACTS.

It is impossible to calculate how the total amount of bail money decreased because, as clarified by the Supreme Court of Georgia and Tbilisi City Court, these kinds of data are not processed in the court system.

The primary source for the aforementioned statement is the 2013-2016 Report of the High Council of Justice’s Activities. In accordance with the report, the total amount of bail money imposed by Tbilisi City Court (Tbilisi City Court alone and not other courts of first instance) has indeed dropped 18 times (2009-2012 and 2013-2016 figures are compared).

The figures in the statement are Tbilisi City Court’s numbers only and they do not reflect the situation in the whole country. Moreover, these statistics reflect the picture for 2016 and not the latest one. In addition, of note is that this figure (even if bail money was indeed significantly reduced) taken separately cannot be a measure of the efficiency of the courts. These are just numbers for the public aiming to make an impact.

Statement 5: The volume of imposed fines decreased almost five-fold (from GEL 229 million to GEL 48 million).

FactCheck concludes that this statement is a MANIPULATION OF NUMBERS.

Similar to the bail money case, it is also impossible to calculate how the courts’ imposition of fines decreased (as understood in the statement, it implies the volume of money imposed as a fine), because, as clarified by the Supreme Court and Tbilisi City Court, these kinds of data are not processed in the court system.

It turns out that the primary source of TV Imedi and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is the 2013-2016 Report of the High Council of Justice’s Activities. In accordance with the report, the total volume of fine money imposed by Tbilisi City Court (Tbilisi City Court alone and not other courts of first instance) did indeed decrease five-fold (the 2009-2012 and 2013-2016 periods are compared to each other).

In addition to the fact that these numbers include Tbilisi City Court’s data only (whilst there is no respective indication in the statement), these statistics show the picture for 2016 instead of the latest data (which is what the public logically expects).

In addition, of note is that the aforementioned indicator (even if it was indeed significantly reduced) taken separately cannot be a measure of the efficiency of the courts. Perhaps, by flaunting these figures, the author of the statement seeks to emphasise that in the past years the imposition of a fine as a penalty does not serve the purpose of filling up the budget. However, by mentioning the numbers alone, it is hard to arrive at this conclusion. The decrease in the volume of money paid to the budget as fines could be stipulated by both a decreased amount of fines or by a reduced number of cases when a fine is applied as a punishment. In addition, of interest is not a comparison of the fines taken separately but studying the court practice of determining the amount of a fine; that is, how justified is the amount of the fine imposed by the court and whether or not a person’s material well-being and the severity of the crime were taken into consideration.

Therefore, only flaunting the total volume of fines by the authors of the statement, whilst not even indicating the specific periods or which data are being compared to each other, is meaningless (even if the volume of fines is indeed reduced) and only aims to make an impact on the public.

Statement 6: The number of approval of claims brought against the police and City Park increased 200 times.

FactCheck leaves Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement WITHOUT A VERDICT.

In this case, FactCheck is again deprived of the possibility to verify the factual accuracy of the statement since these kinds of data are not processed in the court system as clarified by the Supreme Court and Tbilisi City Court.

However, in regard to the aforementioned figure, we can confidently claim that the statements are still based on the 2013-2016 Report of the High Council of Justice’s Activities. Therefore, it is not the latest data (as it happens, this is proven by the fact that City Park as a legal entity does not exist as a legal personality) and Bidzina Ivanishvili presents outdated data to the public.

In addition, it is difficult to make certain conclusions based on the aforementioned data. The fact that the number of approvals of claims brought against the police increased 200 times could be stipulated by a perhaps worsened performance of the police or other objective circumstances and not by an increased independence of the judiciary.

Statement 7: The number of administrative disputes won (they win against government, against ministers) by individuals is 64% whilst the government loses against individuals.

FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is TRUE.

Although the statement does not specify the period of which instance court’s data it means, we conclude that the statement refers to cassation lawsuits discussed by the Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court in 2016 and the percentage share of the approved claims of individuals (physical and legal entities) in those lawsuits based on TV Imedi’s data (which was published prior to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement).

In accordance with the Supreme Court’s data, of the cessation claims discussed in 2016 (699 cases) by the Administrative Chamber of the Cassation Court, 64.4% of the disputes (450 cases) were settled in favour of individuals instead of the state.

Certainly, the public has no obligation to ascertain what the author of the statement meant and which period and of which instance court’s data he was flaunting. When statistical data about the judiciary are presented in April 2019, the public expects that that the data are also updated. Therefore, we believe that presenting data in this form is aimed at making an impact instead of raising the public’s awareness and “delivering a report.” However, of note is that the aforementioned indicator (the settlement of disputes in the third instance courts in favour of private individuals) is characterised by a growth in 2013-2018 as compared to 2008-2012. Moreover, in accordance with 2018’s data, the individual approval rate is also 64%. Therefore, although the authors of the statements refer to 2016’s data, the statement is factually accurate as a result of the aforementioned coincidence.

Statement 8: The number of tax disputes won by individuals in the Supreme Court is 73%.

FactCheck concludes that this statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

Tax disputes belong to the administrative category and this is considered by the court as one of the most important and crucial categories. Since the levying and imposition of taxes is one of the most tangible mechanisms of state interference in an individual’s activity, and which affects an individual’s activity for the whole period of his life, it is of uttermost importance that tax authorities carry out their interference in an individual’s activity with a strict observance of the law and being under the control of an independent judiciary.

Therefore, the independence of the judiciary as well as the full exercise of a disputant’s right to due process is of paramount importance for these types of disputes. It is precisely to underline the level of the judiciary’s independence that Bidzina Ivanishvili flaunts the aforementioned indicator (the number of the Supreme Court’s decisions in favour of private individuals in tax disputes). However, he does not specify the data of which periods he has in mind.

Of the total number of tax disputes discussed by the Court of Cassation in 2016, the percentage share of disputes settled in favour of private individuals is 73 (73%). The same figure for 2018 is 68.9%. Of note is that as compared to 2015, this figure dropped by 8.7 percentage points in 2016. In regard to the general picture, this figure increased relatively under the Georgian Dream’s government as compared to the last years of the United National Movement’s rule (48% in 2010, 59.8% in 2011 and 48.1% in 2012). However, it is relatively unstable (75% in 2013, 64% in 2014, 82% in 2015, 73% in 2016, 72% in 2017 and 69% in 2018).

Statement 9: The number of lawsuits from Georgia submitted to the European Court of Human Rights decreased 11-fold (from 4,453 to 415).

Verdict Pending

The number of lawsuits submitted to the European Court of Human Rights is one of the most pressing topics of the current time and FactCheck will offer comprehensive research on the subject in the nearest future. At the present moment, we refrain from making an assessment of this statement.

However, of mention is one particular circumstance which somehow explains the noticeably high number of lawsuits submitted against Georgia under the United National Movement’s rule and the Georgian Dream members deliberately overlook it. It is known that in regard to the 2008 war, ethnic Ossetians living in the Tskhinvali region submitted nearly 3,000 lawsuits against Georgia to the European Court of Human Rights with Russian assistance. This number is part of 4,453 lawsuits named by Bidzina Ivanishvili which is a fundamentally flawed way to show the picture which he tries to do by summoning the aforementioned figures.



[1] The High Council of Justice’s report contains multiple errors, including mistakes and question marks in regard to those particular data. For instance, in accordance with the report, the increase in the number of acquittals from 112 to 643 constitutes 82% whilst in fact it is a 474% growth. That means that a mistake was made whilst calculating a percentage. In addition, the High Council of Justice does not provide explanations as to the reason for omitting the year 2012 from the accounting period nor does it give the criteria for selecting the generally comparable periods. The comparison between absolute data instead of relative data is yet another problem.


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