Ethics Council in the Parliament of the 10th Convocation has not yet been Activated
The Parliament of Georgia was not able to activate the Ethics Council even in the Fall session of 2022. 7 complaints had been submitted regarding the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics by a Member of Parliament, which were not reviewed, because the Council was not fully staffed and none of its meetings were held.
The Parliament adopted the Code of Ethics in 2019, which was a step forward, however, the Ethics Council has not yet been fully staffed with all its members. Consequently, the Council cannot review complaints and violations of the norms of the Code of Ethics by the MPs.
The Parliament of the 9th Convocation commenced work on the Code of Ethics within the framework of the Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government. The Open Parliament Action Plan 2021-2022 envisaged commitments regarding raising awareness on issues related to the Ethics Council. The commitments were not fulfilled.
Despite the adoption of the Code of Ethics, the document still formally exists. It is necessary for the Parliament of the 10th Convocation to ensure the full staffing of the Council, which would make the Code of Ethics of the Member of Parliament effective.
- The adoption of the Code of Ethics is a significant step forward, however, the absence of effective response mechanisms in case of violations is a substantial shortcoming. Pursuant to the adopted Code of Ethics, in case of breaching the code of conduct, a Member of Parliament receives only a letter of recommendation.
- The Ethics Council has not yet started functioning and it has not reviewed complaints. Currently, the Council remains unfilled.
- According to the information provided by the Parliament, 7 complaints had been submitted regarding the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics of the Member of the Parliament, however, the complaints were not reviewed as the Council remained understaffed and none of its meetings were held.
- The Code of Ethics has a shortcoming regarding the sanctions. The Parliament did not take into consideration the recommendations provided by the civil society and therefore, no effective response mechanisms for the violations of the Code were embodied in the legislation.
For the effective implementation of the Code of Ethics, the following is crucial:
- The Parliament should ensure the full staffing of the Council.
- The Parliament should impose monetary penalty as a sanction for breaching the Code of Ethics. The monetary penalty constitutes international best practice based on the example of democratic countries.
- For the Ethics Council to be effective and independent and not turn into a tool for political retribution, it is possible to invite representatives of the civil society to attend the meetings of the Council which corresponds to the international best practice. For instance, the involvement of civil society representatives in the supervision of matters related to the enforcement of the Code of Ethics is practiced in the United Kingdom in the form of a Committee on Standards. The Committee on Standards oversights the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner which is similar to the Ethics Council. Half of the members of the Committee on Standards is composed of members of the civil society.
Transparency International Georgia submitted these recommendations within the framework of the new Open Parliament Action Plan.