Watchdog on Georgia’s “Stalled Anti-Corruption Policy”

Transparency International (TI) Georgia, a local watchdog, argued in a report published on December 24 that “stalled” anti-corruption reforms in Georgia have resulted in weakened democracy, damaged international reputation and deceleration of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

The report, covering 2020-2021, said Georgia’s current institutional model does not adequately cover all necessary functions, such as the implementation of the anti-corruption policy raising awareness, as well as corruption prevention and investigation.

Some anti-corruption functions are not assumed by any institution, while others are scattered across several agencies unable to properly perform them, TI Georgia said.

The watchdog raised concerns that Georgia does not have a separate, independent anti-corruption investigative body that would effectively probe such cases and improve the enforcement of legislation for the prevention of corruption and conflict of interest in the civil service.

The watchdog stressed that it has, along with its partner organizations, “for years” called for establishing such an agency. The relevant legislative package was initiated in the Parliament in September 2020 but is currently stalled.

The organization has reminded that relevant calls were also made by the European Parliament in its 14 November 2018 resolution on the implementation of the EU Association Agreement with Georgia.

The watchdog also stressed the Anti-Corruption Council – a body responsible for creating and overseeing the implementation of the country’s anti-corruption strategy – as well as its Secretariat, does not in fact function. “The last meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council was held in 2019, while the Secretariat does not actually exist.”

With the Council and Secretariat’s work suspended, TI Georgia said, shortcomings with drafting anti-corruption policy documents (strategy and relevant action plan) have been “alarming.”

Speaking of Georgia’s 2019- 2020 Anti-Corruption Strategy and its Action Plan, the watchdog noted that it was not an “evidence-based document.” The strategy’s chapter titled “Situation Analysis” was primarily descriptive than analytical, while the action plan “fails to meet the minimum standards set for policy documents,” according to TI Georgia.

It particularly raised concerns with the fact that “none of the national anti-corruption policy documents adopted so far address the problem of high-level corruption.” None of the strategies and action plans recognize the existence of this challenge and therefore do not include specific activities against it, TI Georgia added.

Citing monitoring reports carried out by the government, TI Georgia also noted that only 56% of the commitments under the 2017-2018 Action Plan were fulfilled, while in the case of the 2019-2020 Action Plan only 43.5% of the commitments were fully fulfilled.

Meanwhile, since December 2020, the watchdog underlined, Georgia does have an anti-corruption strategy and action plan in force at all.

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