The Code of Ethics of the Parliament of Georgia is not an Effective Document
The Parliament of Georgia adopted the Code of Ethics on February 2019, but the composition of the Ethics’ Council has not been filled. As a result, the Council is unable to receive and deliberate on complaints, essentially leaving the violations of the Code of Ethics unenforced. The Code of Ethics has issues in regards to the sanctions. The legislature did not take into account the recommendations of the civil society to provide for effective response mechanisms for the violations of the said Code.
The purpose of the research is to assess the MPs’ Code of Ethics, to review the process of drafting and adopting said Code, and to identify the main reasons why the Code of Ethics did not turn out to be an effective mechanism to prevent unethical behavior by MPs. The research provides recommendations based on international practice to improve the work of the 10th Convocation of the Parliament.
Different European countries have varied and more stringent sanctions for violations of the Code of Ethics. Four countries have been selected for comparative analysis. The report presents an analysis of existing Polish regulations, which serves as an example of practice in an Eastern European country, while on the other hand presenting Canada’s example (Anglo-Saxon model). The United Kingdom and France are presented as examples of best international practice.
There are unfortunately many instances of unethical behavior by MPs. These violations remain without a due legal response. Due to this, it is important for the provisions of the Code of Ethics to be enforced. It is apparent that the 9th Convocation of the Parliament was not able to finalize the adoption of the Code of Ethics, which today exists as a format document only. It is important for the 10th Convocation of the Parliament to approach the issue more seriously and finalize the composition of the Ethics’ Council, which will make the Code of Ethics enforceable.
The adoption of the Code of Ethics is an important step by the Parliament; however, the document has a critical flaw in that it does not offer an effective mechanism to deal with violations. In case of a violation, an MP receives a recommendation, and the name of the MP and a brief description of the violation are uploaded on the Parliament website.
Without effective response mechanisms, the Code of Ethics will remain a formal document. In addition to implementing effective enforcement mechanisms, we consider that the following recommendations should be taken into account:
- To impose a monetary fine as a sanction for the violation of the Code of Ethics, which is representative of best international practice;
- MPs must be obligated to abstain from voting in cases of conflict of interest;
- For the Ethics’ Council to be an effective and independent and not turn into a tool for political retribution, it is possible to invite members of the civil society to attend the meetings of the Council. The involvement of civil society experts in the oversight of matters related to the enforcement of the Code of Ethics is practiced in the United Kingdom in the form of a Committee on Standards that oversights the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner. Half of the members of the Committee on Standards is composed of members of the civil society.