Non-governmental organizations address the parliament of Georgia to propose an investigative commission about ODRs - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Non-governmental organizations address the parliament of Georgia to propose an investigative commission about ODRs

21 March, 2016


We, the below signatories petition the parliament of Georgia for timely actions in response to the developments at Ivane Javakhishvili State University in Tbilisi – in particular, numerous reports about existence of ODRs at the university, and create an ad hoc commission for investigating the matter. 

Notably, following the reform in 2015, the new regulations were introduced for the so-called ODRs (or security officers); before the reform ODRs could be assigned to any state or private institution, while following the reform the security officers can only be assigned to high-risk institutions. The list of high-risk institutions is determined by the governmental decree and it does not include the state university or any other educational institution. Under the applicable legislation, ODRs can only be assigned to an institution upon the latter’s consent/request.

However, the last year’s reform remedied only part of the problem for several reasons: 

• although certain formal modifications have been made in the institute of ODR, the legislation does not regulate the issue of dismissal of security officers who used to be an employee of an institution, performing administrative functions; 

• the new security service is lacks openness and transparency and is not subject to any control from the outside, which makes it impossible for public to verify whether the security service’s use of its resources and capacities is in conformity with the legislation. 

As to the reports about concrete employees of the university administration also performing functions of ODR, the State Security Service recently released an official statement saying that the issue is now subjected to new regulations introduced within reform implemented in summer 2015 and as of now, there are no ODRs at the State University. However, as stated above, observers and public stakeholders are unable to verify the information. The Chair of the Defense and Security Committee commented on the issue and stated that ODRs are no longer at the university but their presence there in the past was justified by threats of terrorism. We believe that chairman’s comments are out of touch with current legal and social order on the one hand, while on the other hand, it lacks substantiation and marginalizes certain groups. 

Despite the foregoing statements, professors and students at Tbilisi State University continue to believe that there are ODRs at the university, while the University Rector provides concrete names of these ODRs. Notably, during a solidarity rally a few days ago in Batumi, some alleged that there are ODRs at Batumi State University. 

Under the circumstances, it is essential to examine the issue thoroughly and answer legitimate questions that public may have. Educational institutions should serve as a space where one can develop his/her ideas and thinking freely, one that is completely free from police and security service interference. 

In this light, we believe that the parliament should look into the possible intervention by the security service and existence of ODRs the university and other higher education institutions. To this end, the parliament should create an ad hoc investigative commission with participation of all stakeholders, and ensure proper transparency and effectiveness of the process. The investigative commission should examine the issue broadly and comprehensively, in order to determine: 

• whether any security officers (so-called ODRs) were assigned to Tbilisi State University and other education institutions prior to summer 2015; how many and why; 

• what responsibilities did they have at the university? How influential was their interference in the university and students’ affairs? 

• In addition to fulfilling obligations related to state security, did they serve as full-time employees of the university and perform administrative functions? 

• Following the reforms in 2015 (that made it possible to assign security officers to certain universities only, upon their consent), were the security officers assigned to the Tbilisi State University and other educational institutions before the reform withdrawn and their positions abolished? Or were they replaced by other officers?  

• Over the last few days, students and academia have indicated concrete individuals that may be serving as the so-called ODRs. The investigative commission should study biographies of these individuals to determine their actual ties with law enforcement and security services. 

In addition to studying developments at the university, the commission should also examine effectiveness of the reforms in 2015 and discuss systemic solution to the problems related to the institute of ODRs. The parliament should also focus on creating an effective parliamentary mechanism for controlling security and police authorities, which will serve as a safeguard against abuse of power and resources by these authorities. 

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)

Human Rights Center

Information Development and Freedom Institute (IDFI)

Transparency International – Georgia (TI)

Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)

Article 42 of the Constitution 

Multinational Georgia

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy 

Partnership for Human Rights

Tolerance and Diversity Institute 

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association 

Liberal Academy Tbilisi 

Union Sapari