The Council of Europe’s (CoE) Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) has released its Addendum to the Second Compliance Report, which was published in 2021, assessing progress made by Georgia since then on preventing corruption among MPs, judges, and prosecutors.
According to the Addendum, to date, Georgia has implemented eight recommendations of a total of 16, one of them this year, while another six recommendations have been partly implemented and two not implemented at all.
As in the last report, one of the recommendations which remain unfulfilled relates to restricting a judge’s immunity to activities related to judicial decision-making. The second refers to widening the scope of asset declaration to cover all prosecutors to prevent conflicts of interest.
The CoE anti-corruption body said it expects Georgia to deliver additional information by June 30, 2023, on the outstanding recommendations.
Preventing Corruption Among Parliamentarians
The CoE anti-corruption body expressed regret for the “lack of any tangible progress” made towards implementing the three recommendations, with all partly implemented to date, aimed at members of Parliament.
The partially completed recommendations deal with ensuring legislative transparency while drafting laws by establishing a framework for public consultation, a Council of Ethics overseeing Parliamentarians’ conduct, and instituting a requirement for ad hoc disclosures of conflict of interests.
Preventing Corruption Among Judges
GRECO reported approval on the promotion procedure for Court of Appeal Judges being in line with its previous recommendation. However, they expressed “serious misgivings about the promotion of judges without competition,” and urged authorities to revise or abolish the practice.
The anti-corruption body also welcomes the amendments made to the Organic Law of Georgia on General Courts which concerned the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.
However, it expressed concern for the “alleged lack of impartiality during case re-examinations by the same composition of” the High Council of Justice (HCoJ), the body overseeing Georgia’s judiciary, and that no anti-deadlock mechanism exists to prevent situations where the necessary two-thirds majority cannot be gathered.
GRECO is “satisfied” with the adoption of the updated Rules of Judicial Ethics and that authorities organized a training regarding the changes. Although, it urged authorities to “conduct confidential counseling, increase training activities and provide guidance and explanations on the updated Rules.”
In its report, GRECO made note of the decision to abolish a requirement of a two-thirds majority for HCoJ decisions on disciplinary matters related to judges and called on authorities to institute a right to appeal against HCoJ decisions ceasing disciplinary proceedings.
Preventing Corruption Among Prosecutors
Regarding prosecutors, GRECO welcomed the enforcement of the Rule regarding disciplinary liability and misconduct which has defined more precisely offenses regarding employees of the prosecution service. Along this line, it noted that the law provides for “adequate sanctions in respect of different categories of disciplinary misconduct.”
GRECO however, “regrets” that authorities did not pursue draft amendments or make tangible progress to widen the scope of asset declaration under the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service.
It called on authorities to strengthen their efforts to enact relevant legislative changes making it mandatory for prosecutors to submit asset declarations.