Statement regarding the International Anti-Corruption Day
December 9 is the International Anti-Corruption Day. At one time, Georgia was recognized as a country successfully combating corruption. Progress made in the fight against bribery (petty corruption) is maintained to this day, which is an important achievement. However, at the same time, the country is seeing an alarming increase in more complex manifestations of corruption, such as:
- High-Level Corruption – participation of high-ranking officials or influential individuals associated with the ruling party in corruption-related violations; and
- State Capture – a situation when state institutions are not accountable to the country and its citizens and are, instead, serving the interests of influential private individuals.
In recent years, it is becoming all the more evident that mechanisms for restraining corruption are failing to put up any resistance to these manifestations of corruption. Moreover, the Government of Georgia does not recognize the existence of corruption as a problem at all and, consequently, there is no political will to implement effective anti-corruption reforms.
As a result, in 2021, as in previous years, the Georgian authorities have failed to take adequate steps for eliminating shortcomings in the country’s anti-corruption system, legislation, and policy.
If things continue in this manner, we should expect a rise in the level of corruption, which means that even more damage will be caused to the country, human rights will be violated more, and the country’s democratic development will face more obstacles.
We think it is possible to avoid this scenario, for which the authorities should take the following steps:
- Separate the function of investigation of corruption from the State Security Service; create an Independent Anti-Corruption Agency that will be responsible for the investigation of high-level corruption and effective enforcement of the anti-corruption legislation;
- Ensure the independence of the Prosecutor’s Office and its protection from the undue influence of the ruling party and informal groups;
- Take real steps for reforming the judicial system.
Overcoming the challenge of high-level corruption is a prerequisite for strengthening democratic governance and the rule of law in Georgia and for successful continuation of the country’s integration with the EU. Therefore, it is important that the authorities recognize the existence of this problem and show political will to implement bold reforms.
Reining in corruption is one of the prerequisites in the process of successful building of a democratic state. It is no accident that the level of corruption is low in countries where the level of democracy is high – where the state institutions are strong and independent from one another, as a result of which they can balance the desire of any group to use power for achieving personal goals at the expense of the country and its citizens.