Appeals Court Annuls Decision on Religious Discrimination in Marneuli
On 8 December, the Tbilisi Court of Appeals overturned the decision of the Bolnisi District Court, which ruled it discriminatory for the municipality to transfer all the funds allocated for this purpose to the Georgian Orthodox diocese.
On 1 July 2022, the Bolnisi District Court’s ruled in favor of activist Samira Bayramova and the All Muslims of All Georgia (AMAG) group, represented by rights watchdog Social Justice Center (SJC). Ruling on the case which was filed in 2019, it decided that it was discriminatory for the entirety of the GEL 400,000 (USD 150,384) allocated for religious activities in the Marneuli Municipality to be transferred only to the Georgian Orthodox Diocese. The Marneuli City Hall appealed against the decision.
SJC responded to the appellate ruling saying it was “disturbing” to see the voluminous case, ongoing for three years, being reviewed on appeal in one sole session. It said the appeals court made the decision “without a complete and objective study of the essential circumstances of the case” and “ignored the importance of the dispute, the context, anti-discrimination legislation, and Constitutional principles.”
The defense lawyers of SJC also said the appeals judge Leila Mamulashvili exhibited an obvious negative bias towards the plaintiffs based on their ethnic origin, which “raise questions about the independence and impartiality of the Court while confirming the judge’s pre-formed attitude towards the issue.”
The SJC also pointed out that the next year’s budget expenditures of Marneuli, published in November 2022, also foresee GEL 400,000 to the Diocese of Marneuli, which is once again the only recipient among religious organizations.
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