Transparency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Transparency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

25 April, 2017

Police represents one of the most important systems for the exercise of powers by the government. The main functions of the police are safeguarding of public safety and protection of civil order. The law enforcement agencies are given broad authority by legislation to fulfil those functions, which creates the risk of misuse of power. To ensure public trust in law enforcement agencies, the police must systematically demonstrate respect for the rights of persons, rule of law, and application of the principle of political neutrality. Moreover, police should be open to oversight over its activities.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has been one of the most closed ministries for several years, which has largely been conditioned by its merger with the state security service in 2004. The lack of transparency raised difficulties of conducting research on institutional issues surrounding the Ministry and providing assessments. A public outcry was caused in 2013 with the discovery of an archive within the system of the Ministry, which included illegal surveillance recordings from the past several years. In the summer of 2015, the state security service separated from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, problems with transparency and low quality of issuing public information still persisted within the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

This report aims at defining the level of transparency of the Ministry and the reasons hindering it, as well as, increasing the accessibility to the information in the system of the Georgian police and providing an analysis of the structure and system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, following the reforms of 2015.

The report also assesses the quality of accessibility to public information, production of statistics, methods of compiling of databases and forms, as well as, the personnel policy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. These are the main findings:

Accessibility to public information:

  • The Ministry has not left a single FOI request without a reply. In most of the cases (64%), the issued information was considered as complete. It is worth noting that this practice does not correspond to the general experience of author organizations receiving public information from the Ministry and is also different from the findings of other non-governmental organizations within the same period of reporting;
  • The issuing of public information on time, as defined by law, has been identified as significant problem. The Ministry responded to FOI requests only two times out of ten, within a 10-day period. The responses to other requests came with significant delays, including a response provided after 70 days;
  • The information provided by the Ministry has in some cases been assessed as incomplete. In spite of filing administrative complaints, we were unable to receive full information on the bonuses and disciplinary proceedings. Moreover, we were unable to receive complete information on persons employed and dismissed from the Ministry;
  • The classification of documents as state secrets limits the accessibility to public information. The Ministry was unable to provide sufficient argumentation in favor of classifying the statutes of their departments and the amount of staff.
  • The Ministry does not conduct complete administrative proceedings over the filed administrative complaints related to the release of public information. The Ministry has not held an oral hearing on any of the administrative complaints presented during the drafting of this report. The received responses did not have a form of a decision and they did not fully respond to the demands provided in the complaint;
  • The Ministry does not fully fulfill its obligation of proactive publishing of public information.

           Forms of producing statistics and managing databases:

  • The Ministry of Internal Affairs does not have a single and consolidated guideline document for the production of statistical information. Statistical-analytical research is conducted chaotically and it is unknown what purposes or aims it serves. Little attention is paid to the sociological polls on the perception of substance  and indicators of crimes, as well as broken down information on sensitive issues;
  • In spite of rising public interest, the Ministry has not published information on the crime statistics since February 15th of 2016. The unified report on crime statistics, published based on the inter-agency memorandum, does not contain police statistics for any of the months of 2012-2016;,
  • In spite of the obligations taken under the Open Government Partnership Action Plan, the interactive crime statistics and criminological map has not become available to the public;
  • The Ministry does not provide the production and public dissemination of statistical information on the complaints/statements lodged against the police, average indicators of illegal activities of the police and information on imposed sanctions/penalties;
  • The retention period of information is not regulated for several different categories of data, moreover, the necessity of indefinite archiving of several categories of data is unclear. The secondary legislation does not clearly define the different regime for access to archived information;

There are insufficient legislative guarantees for the prevention of abuse of access to the databases.