Statement regarding plans to set up a new Anti-Corruption Bureau - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Statement regarding plans to set up a new Anti-Corruption Bureau

02 November, 2022

On October 28, the Legal Issues Committee at the Parliament of Georgia initiated a draft law that provides for the creation of a new body – LEPL Anti-Corruption Bureau. The declared goal of the authors of the draft law is to ensure the fulfillment of Point 4 of the 12 recommendations that were given by the European Commission to Georgia as prerequisites for granting the status of a candidate for EU membership.                                                                               

According to the draft law, the function of the new agency will be to contribute to the fight against corruption, which it will carry out by creating anti-corruption policy documents and coordination and supervision over their enforcement. The head of the Bureau will be appointed by the Prime Minister of Georgia.

It is TI Georgia’s assessment that the proposed reform fails to address recommendation 4 given by the European Commission, which asks the country to:

“Strengthen the independence of its Anti-Corruption Agency, bringing together all key anti-corruption functions, in particular to rigorously address high-level corruption cases.” 

The planned reform does not encompass bringing together various key anti-corruption functions, does not ensure its independence, and is not tasked with addressing the cases of high-level corruption. What it envisions is simply taking the existing functions of the Secretariat of the current National Anti-Corruption Council under the Government Administration and giving them to a newly established body. This fails to adequately address the requirement of the European Commission. The proposed reform also fails to more generally address the corruption related challenges facing the country – the rise of high-level corruption and the deepening of state capture.  

Therefore, the implementation of the proposed reform alone cannot be considered as fulfillment of the recommendation, which may cause the country to lose the opportunity to obtain the candidate status for EU membership. For this reason, we call on the Parliament and the ruling team to revise their approach and do everything possible to unequivocally fulfill recommendation 4.

To achieve this goal, it is possible to use the draft law initiated by MPs from the Lelo for Georgia political party as early as in January 2022, or the ideas used in it. This draft law provides for the creation of an independent and multi-functional national anti-corruption agency with investigative powers, which would fulfill recommendation 4 of the European Commission in full.

This draft law, which was developed by TI Georgia and independent MPs in 2020, enjoys broad support among both NGOs and the political spectrum. The changes proposed by the draft law directly addresses all the three components mentioned in the recommendation of the European Commission:

  1. Guarantee of independence – The head of the agency is selected as a result of a high political consensus, by two-thirds of members of the Parliament, which will ensure the appointment of an independent person.
  2. Responding to high-level corruption – The agency is equipped with investigative powers and is directly obligated to fight corruption, including high-level corruption.
  3. Bringing together of key anti-corruption functions – The agency is created by bringing together the anti-corruption departments that are currently scattered across different institutions; these are:
  • The Anti-Corruption Agency (department) under the State Security Service;
  • The Department of Financial Monitoring of Political Parties under the State Audit Office; 
  • The Department of Monitoring of Asset Declarations under the Civil Service Bureau.

There is still enough time left until the end of 2022 to fully meet the recommendations given to Georgia by the European Commission, which will bring the country the candidate status for EU membership and strengthen its democratic future. Therefore, we call on the Georgian Dream not to miss this historic opportunity and to do everything possible to ensure that even the most skeptically disposed party does not have any questions on whether or not Georgia has adequately fulfilled any of the recommendations of the European Commission.