TI-Georgia: Suggested Anti-Corruption Law Amendments Ignore Venice Commission Recommendations

According to Transparency International / TI-Georgia, a local corruption watchdog, the draft amendments to the Law on the Fight against Corruption “do not take into account critically important recommendations of the European Commission and the Venice Commission, in a number of ways worsen the existing regulations and raise questions about compliance with the Constitution.”

TI-Georgia says that the amendments fail to ensure the independence and political neutrality of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. It adds that the draft amendments do not consider giving the Bureau the function of investigating high-level corruption cases.

Moreover, TI-Georgia says that the proposed amendments in many cases consider the provisions, which have been present neither in the Venice Commission recommendations, nor in the European Commission steps. and worsen the current practice. The watchdog cites two examples in this regard:

  • The draft amendments give the Anti-Corruption Bureau the power to deregister a political party if it fails to submit financial statements for two years. Citing the Georgian Constitution, TI-Georgia stresses that only the Constitutional Court has the power to deregister a political party. It says that granting such power to the Bureau “in this form, as well as in this essence, contradicts the Constitution.”
  • If the declaration completed by an official contains an error, the Bureau reserves the right not to publish the declaration for a period of up to 2 months, and not issue it as part of the public information.

TI-Georgia says that the existing draft amendments disregard crucial recommendations of the Venice Commission. Among the recommendations that are missing from the draft amendments are:

  • Ensuring the independence and political neutrality of the Anti-Corruption Bureau – According to the recommendations of the Venice Commission, the head of the Bureau should be appointed by a qualified majority of Parliament or on the basis of a multi-party agreement, but not by the Prime Minister. In addition, the Bureau should be accountable only to Parliament, which TI notes is not reflected in the draft amendments;
  • Empowering the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate high-level corruption cases. In addition, TI-Georgia stresses that fighting elite corruption is a necessary component of achieving de-oligarchization.

Accordingly, TI-Georgia warns that the adoption of the proposed version of the amendments will hinder Georgia’s European integration process, “as most of the steps set by the European Commission for Georgia will remain unfulfilled.”

TI-Georgia calls on the Georgian Parliament not to vote for these amendments and to prepare the new ones in accordance with the recommendations and conditions of the Venice Commission and the European Commission.

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