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March Brings Welcome News for Andreas Georgiou

1 May 2023 508 views One Comment
Photo of a group of people holding signs supporting Andreas Georgiou on a DC street.

Photo by Ali Arab
Andreas Georgiou’s supporters picket outside the Greek Embassy in Washington, DC, in December of 2022.

Former Greek statistician Andreas Georgiou and the broader government statistics community received encouraging news on two fronts in March. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Georgiou, finding Greece violated his right to a fair trial on violation-of-duty charges. Separately, in its annual human rights country reports, the US State Department included mention of Georgiou for the fourth straight year under a section titled Denial of a Fair Public Trial.

While the violation of duty charge is far from resolved, Georgiou and his supporters welcomed the news after more than 11 years of persecution and setbacks for his work to produce accurate and objective official statistics as president of the Hellenic Statistical Authority from 2010–2015. In a message to his supporters, Georgiou thanked them for their steadfast support and emphasized the court decision was “good news for the application of the principles and ethics of official statistics in Greece, the EU, and the world, as well as for human rights and the rule of law.”

The ASA and international community continue to rally for Georgiou. Following the decision, the Friends of Greece said in a statement, “This decision is a victory for accurate statistics and the rule of law … [and] holds the promise for the Greek government to rectify years of political persecution against Andreas Georgiou.” Prominent Greek economist Miranda Xafa wrote, “The erosion of judicial independence in the case of Mr. Georgiou, as well as in other cases, proves the necessity of institutional reforms in the [Greek] judiciary. If they are not implemented, Greece will be the big loser.” In both December and January, supporters demonstrated outside the Greek Embassy in Washington, DC, calling for justice for Georgiou.

Georgiou still awaits a decision by the Greek Supreme Court for his appeal of a conviction for simple slander. And the community awaits Greece’s reaction to the European Court of Human Rights’s decision on the violation of duty charges, which contend Georgiou violated his duty as head of ELSTAT when—in November of 2010—he did not put up the revised 2006–2009 public finance statistics for a vote following such demands of a then-existing board at ELSTAT. For this charge, he was initially cleared by a three-judge panel before being subjected to a double jeopardy trial, in which he was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail (suspended). Subsequently, the Greek Supreme Court confirmed Georgiou’s conviction.

Georgiou appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, stating his human right to a fair trial was violated because the Greek court did not consult the “European statistics code of practice,” which—under the principle Professional Independence—includes this indicator: “The heads of the National Statistical Institutes … have the sole responsibility for deciding on statistical methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of statistical releases.”

With the European Court of Human Rights judging in Georgiou’s favor, the Greek government could appeal the ruling or the Greek judiciary could reopen the case, as explicitly recommended by the European Court of Human Rights.

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One Comment »

  • Edwin M Truman said:

    This is indeed wonderful news for Greece, the rule of law, statisticians and Amherst’s own hero.

    Ted Truman ’63

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