The Anti-Corruption Agency (Department) of the State Security Service is one of the main agencies in the fight against corruption. As a study conducted by the Democracy Research Institute showed, the number of cases investigated by the Anti-Corruption Agency far exceeds the total number of cases investigated by other departments of the State Security Service.
Many of the investigated cases are related to petty corruption.
At the same time, the existing anti-corruption system fails to eliminate complex forms of corruption in the country. The areas with significant risks of corruption today include public procurement, privatization, political party funding and officials' ties with private business.
The European Commission's 2020 report on the implementation of the Association Agreement by Georgia says that despite the progress made in the fight against low- and middle-level corruption, the high-level elite corruption remains a serious problem in Georgia.
One of the reasons for the deteriorating situation may be the fact that the Anti-Corruption Agency is subordinated to the State Security Service. Problems with transparency of the Service, performance of police functions, independence and accountability are worth noting.
For the above reasons, the Anti-Corruption Network of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) advised the Georgian authorities in its fourth round report on anti-corruption reforms to separate the Anti-Corruption Agency from the State Security Service. The recommendation has not been implemented yet.
Performance of police functions and risks of abuse of power
Security services have extensive intelligence, analytical and in many cases investigative powers, which, combined with a high degree of secrecy, complicates control and creates a space for arbitrariness and abuse of power. The recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe emphasizes that security services should not be authorised to carry out law-enforcement tasks, in order to avoid the high risk of abuse of power and undesirable competition.
According to the recommendation, the activities of the bodies responsible for national security should address not specific threats arisen in the daily lives of citizens, but global, external threats directed against the State and its security.
In contrast, today, according to the legislation of Georgia, in some cases, the detection of a specific offence (including a corruption crime) by the employees of the State Security Service automatically means that the offence should be investigated by the employees of the State Security Service, which does not comply with international standards or practices. The mentioned regulation, instead of strictly regulating the activities of the Security Service, gives it an unreasonably broad mandate and carries the risk of abuse of power.
In addition, as practice shows, the Anti-Corruption Agency (Department) of the State Security Service often investigates cases that do not, in essence, pose an increased threat to the state security or economy. This, on the one hand, leads to unjustified expenditure of resources of the State Security Service, and on the other hand, creates the risk of human rights violations. The existing regulations indicate irrational distribution of resources, duplication of functions and, in general, inefficiency of the system.
Article 10 of the UN Convention against Corruption emphasizes the importance of openness and accountability of the Anti-Corruption Agency.
In contrast, the activities of the State Security Service are characterized by a high degree of secrecy. The annual reports of the Service are mainly reviewed in a closed format, while the part of the information that is made public is usually scarce.
Consequently, the fact that a body combating corruption is part of one of the most closed agencies does not contribute to the transparency of information about the activities of the body, while the lack of information leads to public distrust.
Accountability to the legislature
By law, the Head of the Service shall be accountable to the Parliament. However, as numerous studies have shown, the legislature almost does not use the mechanisms provided by the regulations to control the Service.
Although the State Security Service is required to submit an annual report, only few pages were devoted to the fight against corruption in the 2020 activity report (as in previous years), which, of course, does not provide a comprehensive assessment of the performance of the Anti-Corruption Agency.
The current rule for electing the Head of the State Security Service fails to ensure the election of a person who is politically impartial or independent from the ruling political force, which gives the Government a leverage to influence the activities of the State Security Service and, consequently, the Anti-Corruption Agency.
Democracy Research Institute, State Security Service, Duplication of Competencies and Parallel Investigation Systems, 2020, p. 22
Transparency International Georgia, Anti-Corruption Agencies, International Practice and Reform Options for Georgia, 2014 p.20
European Commission, Association Implementation Report on Georgia 2020, P. 7
Anti-Corruption Reforms in Georgia, Fourth Round of Monitoring of the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan, 2016, P.121
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Control of Internal Security Services in Council of Europe Member States, Doc. 1402. Guideline B (3) იხ. http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTMLen.asp?fileid=16689&lang=en
Democracy Research Institute, State Security Service, Duplication of Competencies and Parallel Investigation Systems, 2020, p. 24
United Nations Convention against Corruption, 2003, Article 10
Democracy Research Institute, Mechanisms of Parliamentary Oversight of the State Security Service of Georgia and Their Importance, 2020
http://www.democracyresearch.org/files/67%E1%83%90%E1%83%9C%E1%83%92 % E1% 83% 90% E1% 83% A0% E1% 83% 98% E1% 83% A8% E1% 83% 98% 20% E1% 83% A5% E1% 83% 90% E1% 83% A0 % E1% 83% 97% E1% 83% A3% E1% 83% 9A% E1% 83% 98.pdf
2020 activity report of the State Security Service of Georgia http://parliament.ge/ge/ajax/downloadFile/151521/1-4905.pdf