New U.S. State Department Human Rights Report with Extensive TI Georgia References
The U.S. State Department has released its latest 2009 Human Rights Report on Georgia in which Transparency International Georgia is mentioned several times. The report largely refers to Transparency International Georgia's report on media ownership - "Television in Georgia – Ownership, Control and Regulation". In addition to the November report on media ownership, the State Department's 2009 report refers to a joint statement by TI Georgia, Young Lawyer's Association and Open Society - Georgia Foundation which is critical of a recent amendment change to legislation on pre-trial detentions. Transparency International Secretariat's recent Global Corruption Barometer is also mentioned. The State Department's report rightly points out that although petty corruption has been successfully curbed since the 2003 Rose Revolution, high-level corruption remains a concern in Georgia. In addition, the report touches on the recent changes to the Law on Public Service. The report states, "According to the Law on Public Service, public officials upon accepting a position are required to submit yearly declarations of their personal and family members' financial incomes and property for tax inspection. The Bureau of Declarations is the receiving agency for the financial information. Government corruption cases are investigated by the Prosecutor's Office under the Ministry of Justice." While the declarations are posted online at http://csb.gov.ge (Georgian language only), a brief surmise of the declarations paints a better picture of the quality of data provided. The documents can be downloaded in portable document format (pdf), a format which, in this case, encapsulates a collection of scanned documents which were filled out by hand. Each document is filled out differently, with little attention to the consistency and quality. As part of a project funded by Oxfam-Novib and UGPN, TI Georgia will map these declarations to public officials, beginning with ministers. The data will be in an accessible format that will enable any person to search for information. In addition, the public will be invited to comment on the information and leave their own feedback.