State Capture Is Most Significant Challenge to Effective Anti-Corruption Policy in Georgia
Statement of the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day
The International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated on 9 December. Countering different forms of corruption remains a significant challenge for Georgia.
In Georgia, 36% percent of those surveyed believe that abuse of power for personal gain by public officials is common (with only 15% saying that it is not common), while 51% think that instances of corruption are not investigated properly when high-ranking officials or influential individuals with links to the ruling party are involved.
A number of worrying trends concerning the fight against corruption, anti-corruption policy and the broader sphere of democratic governance have been evident in 2019:
- Growing signs of informal control over public institutions and state capture which undermine the system of checks and balances;
- The Georgian Government’s failure to fulfill important international anti-corruption commitments and recommendations;
- Growing pressure on independent and pro-opposition media and attempts to interfere in their operation;
- Capture of the judiciary through growing undue influence of a small dominant group within the system and the use of the judiciary as a tool to retaliate against political opponents and civil activists;
- Politicizing of the law enforcement bodies and their use for exerting pressure on political opponents;
- Problems concerning the Parliament’s institutional independence which stem from the ruling party leader’s informal influence over the members of the legislature and have a negative impact both on the Parliament’s exercise of its oversight role and the broader legislative process;
- Attempts to restrict the civil sphere and attacks on civil society activists and nongovernmental organizations;
- Suspicious success of the companies linked to public officials in public procurement and incomplete disclosure of the public officials’ assets and business connections;
- Ineffective enforcement of important anti-corruption provisions governing the work of public officials;
- Instances of nepotism and favoritism in civil service;
- Lack of effective investigation of alleged cases of high-level corruption which stems from the concentration of power and political influence over the law enforcement bodies;
- Refusal to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections through a fully proportional system, which has further aggravated political polarization.
Effective operation of the country’s key democratic institutions is a necessary prerequisite to sustained progress in the area of anti-corruption policy and reforms. It is therefore important for the Georgian authorities to take the following steps:
- Promote the establishment of a pluralistic political system (inter alia, by amending electoral legislation and holding democratic elections), which would make it possible to halt the process of state capture;
- Respect the freedom of the media and editorial independence. Cease the pressure on the media and the attempts to gain influence over them;
- Cease undue political interference in the activities of the judiciary and the law enforcement bodies;
- Cease the attacks on local and international nongovernmental organizations and civil society groups;
- Remove the responsibility for investigating corruption from the State Security Service. Establish an independent anti-corruption agency that will be responsible for effective enforcement of anti-corruption laws.