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TI Georgia: Anti-Corruption Law Amendments Fail to Meet European Commission Requirements and Worsen Existing Rules

By Liza Mchedlidze
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Transparency International Georgia asserted that the amendments made to the anti-corruption law, adopted in the third reading in parliament on May 29, 2024, cannot meet the requirements of the European Commission and worsen the existing rules.

"According to the explanatory note of the package of changes initiated by the deputies of the parliamentary majority, the draft law aimed to fulfill the recommendation issued by the European Commission to Georgia on November 8, 2023. Among the nine conditions for the opening of EU accession negotiations, one referred to the further promotion of the effectiveness of the anti-corruption bureau and the further improvement of its institutional independence and impartiality.

However, the adopted amendments do not take into account any of the critically important recommendations of the European Commission and the Venice Commission, including the parliamentary appointment of the head of the anti-corruption bureau and the granting of investigative powers to the bureau. In addition, in several areas, the legislative changes worsen existing regulations and raise questions about compliance with the Constitution of Georgia. In some cases, they include provisions that were not recommended by either the European Commission or the Venice Commission and simultaneously worsen existing practices," the statement reads.

TI highlighted some particularly noteworthy changes adopted in the third reading:

Cancellation of Party Registration
Political parties can now be deregistered by an appeal to the Public Registry from the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. If a party fails to submit financial statements to the Bureau for two consecutive years or if its financial statements show zero income and expenses for two consecutive years, the Anti-Corruption Bureau may appeal to the Public Registry for the party's abolition, with its assets transferred to the state budget. TI-Georgia emphasizes that this contradicts the Georgian Constitution, which reserves such powers for the Constitutional Court.

Access to Special Category Personal Data
Amendments grant the Bureau the authority to request personal information, including special categories such as race, ethnicity, political opinions, beliefs, etc., from public entities, individuals, and legal entities. TI-Georgia questions the necessity and purpose of this provision, especially since it was not included in the original draft amendments.

Limiting Declaration Publicity
The amendments allow the Bureau to withhold the publication of declarations containing errors for up to two months, contrary to international standards promoting transparency.

Exemption for the Anti-Corruption Bureau
Changes exempt the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau from requiring government approval for determining the agency's budget, staff list, salary fund, allowances, and spending limits for fuel and communication costs.

New Powers for the Anti-Corruption Bureau
The Anti-Corruption Bureau is now empowered to develop and implement programs on ethics, integrity, and accountability in the public service, as well as to study and generalize compliance with ethical norms by public servants and develop corresponding recommendations.