skip to content

TI Georgia: Adopted Amendments to the Anti-Corruption Law Worsen Existing Practice

According to Transparency International / TI-Georgia, a local corruption watchdog, the amendments to the law on the fight against corruption, passed in its third and final reading on May 29, “do not take into account any of the key recommendations of the European Commission and the Venice Commission,” in particular the appointment of the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau by Parliament and the granting of investigative powers to the Bureau; they also “worsen existing regulations and raise questions about compatibility with the Georgian Constitution” and “in several cases, they contain provisions that were not recommended by either the European Commission or the Venice Commission.”

In particular, the watchdog highlights the following shortcomings of the amendments.

Cancelation of party registration

Political parties may be deregistered on the basis of an appeal to the Public Registry by the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. If a party does not submit its financial statements to the Bureau for two years, or if all its income and expenses in its financial statements equal zero for two consecutive years, the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau may appeal to the Public Registry to abolish the political party, and its assets will be given to the state budget.

Citing the Georgian Constitution, TI-Georgia stresses that only the Constitutional Court can ban the party if the latter’s objective is “to overthrow or forcibly change the constitutional order of Georgia, infringe on the independence or violate the territorial integrity of the country”, or “when the party engages in propaganda of war or violence, stirs up strife.”  TI-Georgia says that the amendment which provides for the cancellation of a political party by an administrative body and on the grounds of non-submittal of financial or no income, thus contradicts the Constitution “in its form, as well as in its content.”

In addition, the amendments grant the Anti-Corruption Agency powers to investigate individuals, and to request personal and special category personal data from public entities, physical and legal persons, which the watchdog says raises questions about their necessity and purpose.

Access to the special category of personal data

The amendments grant the Bureau the power to request from public entities, physical and legal persons, personal information, including special categories of personal information, which may include a person’s race and ethnicity, political opinions, beliefs, trade union membership, health and sex life.

The watchdog stresses that access to this type of information was not mentioned in the original draft amendments and that “the need for these amendments is not presented in the explanatory note.”

Limiting the publicity of declarations

According to the amendments, 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 two month, and not issue it as part of the public information.

The watchdog assesses this as a step backwards, “as artificially limiting the publicity of the declaration contradicts the best international standards.”

Exemption made for the Anti-Corruption Bureau

According to another change , which will be included in the law on legal entity under public law, the head of the Anti-Corruption bureau will no longer need the government’s approval to determine the agency’s budget, staff list, salary fund, as well as allowances, purchase fuel and communication cost limits.

New power for the anti-corruption bureau

The new amendments take away from the Public Service Bureau and grant the Anti-Corruption Bureau the right to “develop and implement programs in the public service on the issues of ethics, integrity and accountability, as well as to study and generalize the practice of compliance with ethical norms by public servants and to develop corresponding recommendations”.

Also Read:

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


Back to top button