Public Defender’s Recommendation to Minister of Culture and Directorate of National Museum LEPL relating to Discrimination based on Dissenting Opinion
On October 26, 2022, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth of Georgia and members of the Directorate of the National Museum of Georgia LEPL with a recommendation to eliminate discriminatory treatment of the employees of the National Museum on the ground of dissenting opinion. The interests of the applicants were represented in the Public Defender’s Office by the Georgian Young Lawyers Association.
Four applicants applied to the Public Defender, whose project, on behalf of the National Museum, won the fundamental research competition of the Shota Rustaveli Science Foundation. However, the Board of Directors of the National Museum refused the funding, since the employees involved in the project had repeatedly criticized the Minister of Culture and the decisions of the new administration of the National Museum. Moreover, the applicants were dismissed from the National Museum, with regard to which they are conducting a dispute in court. The respondents did not provide the information requested by the Public Defender regarding the case under consideration.
According to the Public Defender's assessment, after it became publicly known that the project received funding from the Shota Rustaveli Foundation, the Minister of Culture made changes to the regulations of the National Museum, by which the Directorate was granted the authority to apply to the funder about the funded projects and request the grant. The Directorate was also granted the right to decide whether to admit a researcher to the museum for the purpose of carrying out a research project. The fact that contracts were signed with the Shota Rustaveli Science Foundation for 12 out of 13 winning scientific projects, and only the applicant's project was refused funding, is indicative of a discriminatory attitude.
Based on the above, the Public Defender made a recommendation to the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth of Georgia and members of the Directorate of the National Museum of Georgia to:
- apply to the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia with the request to receive funding for the winning project;
- not to allow discriminatory treatment based on dissenting opinion and/or on other grounds, and to conduct activities in compliance with the principle of equality in the future.