Statement On the Occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day
Tbilisi, 9 December 9 2016 – Today the world marks the International Anti-Corruption Day. It is an appropriate occasion for citizens of Georgia, the authorities, and civil society organizations to review the progress our country has made in terms of combating corruption and the problems and challenges that we still face.
As a result of the reforms implemented since 2004, the county has made significant progress in combating corruption. Petty corruption and bribery in public services were reduced to the minimum, significant steps were taken to reduce the risks of corruption in other areas (e.g. public procurement system), while the introduction of modern technologies increased the transparency of the public administration. Important elements of anti-corruption legislation, such as the provisions regulating asset disclosure and protection of whistleblowers, were improved. As a result, today, Georgia is a clear leader in the region in terms of anti-corruption reforms, s demonstrated by a number of authoritative international studies (e.g. Global Corruption Barometer and Corruption Perceptions Index).
At the same time, there are a number of serious problems that hinder further progress in the area of anti-corruption policy. Despite the overall improvement of anti-corruption legislation, its effective enforcement in practice remains problematic. Lack of independence of law enforcement agencies decreases their ability to investigate cases of high-level corruption effectively. Even after the adoption of the new Law On Civil Service, the civil service has yet to become as an independent and professional institution.
While media pluralism has increased overall since 2012, moves against the media that are critical of the government undermine their role as an institution which ensures the accountability of the government. The authorities have failed to respond appropriately to the cases of conflict of interest and nepotism identified by the media and non-governmental organizations, which have not been investigated. There are no effective mechanisms for preventing corruption in state-owned enterprises and independent regulatory bodies. The process of adoption of the new freedom of information law has also stalled.
In order to cope with the existing challenges and achieve further progress in reducing corruption, it is necessary that the Georgian authorities:
- Create an effective mechanism – an independent anti-corruption agency – for investigating possible cases of high-level corruption;
- Take effective steps toward genuine independence of the law enforcement system;
- Ensure the establishment of a professional civil service and its protection from partisan influence;
- Respect the independence of the media and the principle of non-interference with their activity;
- Eliminate the shortcomings of anti-corruption legislation;
- Ensure full enforcement of anti-corruption legislation in practice and proper investigation of possible cases of corruption, conflict of interest, and nepotism identified by the media and non-governmental organizations;
- Adopt a new law on freedom of information and ensure access to public information in practice;
- Ensure that Parliament exercises more effective oversight vis-à-vis the executive branch.
Transparency International Georgia is prepared to cooperate with various branches and institutions of government to ensure the resolution of the aforementioned problems and further progress in the area of anti-corruption policy.