Statement on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day
The International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated on 9 December. This year, against the backdrop of the pandemic and the parliamentary elections, the unresolved challenges of Georgia’s anti-corruption policy have been all too evident.
While petty corruption remains rare in Georgia, high-level corruption remains an unsolved problem and a significant obstacle to the country’s development.
According to the Georgian National Integrity System assessment published in June, a number of systemic problems are preventing the implementation of an effective anti-corruption policy in the country. These include:
- An extremely high degree of concentration of power and the ruling party's almost total control over a majority of public institutions. Undue informal influence over the activities of the government and other public institutions.
- The legislature’s and the judiciary’s lack of independence which reduces their ability to exercise effective oversight of the government's and the law enforcement agencies' activities.
- Weak political competition, caused by the ruling party's privileged access to resources. Lack of effective response to the violations of campaign financing rules and voter bribing.
These factors have led to a de facto one-party rule and state capture, making effective democratic accountability impossible, and creating extensive opportunities for corruption.
According to the public opinion survey commission by Transparency International Georgia this spring, 47 percent of the respondents believe that possible instances of high-level corruption are not investigated properly in Georgia.
Our organization’s research throughout this year has identified other problems too:
- Heightened risk of corruption during the state of emergency when multiple large public contracts were awarded without competitive selection.
- The Parliament’s almost complete inaction during the state of emergency in terms of executive branch oversight.
- Shortcomings in the process of verification of the public officials’ asset declarations.
- Near-total lack of application of the whistleblower protection provisions in practice.
- Likely irregularities in the campaign financing process, as well as the suspicions pattern of the ruling party’s donors’ success in public procurement.
- Instances of misuse of administrative administrative resources for electoral campaign.
- Significant problems in the adjudication of electoral disputes.
Combined, these findings indicate that, as in past years, the Georgian authorities did not take in 2020 the necessary steps to address the shortcomings of the country’s anti-corruption system, legislation, and policy.
We believe that the following steps must be taken in order to solve these problems:
- Strengthen the role of the Parliament in the country’s governance and the role of the opposition within the Parliament, inter alia, by ceding to the opposition leadership positions in a number of parliamentary committees and by ensuring the effectiveness of investigative commissions.
- Take genuine steps toward reforming the judiciary.
- Ensure the independence of the Prosecutor’s Office.
- Remove the anti-corruption function from the State Security Service and establish an independent anti-corruption agency.
- Cease the pressure and the attacks on the media and the civil society organizations.