DRI: The identity of the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency is unknown to the public and his declaration is classified
The identities of the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency of the State Security Service and his/her deputy/deputies are unknown. Even their asset declarations are classified.
The State Security Service, due to its non-transparent, secret nature and broad powers, should not have the authority to investigate corruption crimes.
Nevertheless, one of the activities of the State Security Service is to prevent, detect and tackle corruption.
In order to prevent corruption, public institutions must function openly and transparently.
Naturally, the Anti-Corruption Agency must adhere to this standard even more. Concealing the identities of the head of the agency (which directly implements investigative and preventive measures to detect/prevent corruption) and classifying their declarations cast doubt on the activities of the Anti-Corruption Agency and radically reduces public confidence in its work. In addition, similar practice is contrary to the best international standards.
According to the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service, an official is obliged to submit an asset declaration. Pursuant to the original edition of the law, any person had the right to request and access the declaration of any official, except for his/her personal number, permanent residence address, telephone number and secret section of the declaration.
However, with the amendments that took effect on January 1, 2017,
the declarations of officials, whose positions are confidential in accordance with the Law of Georgia on State Secrets, were fully classified. Moreover, even declarations published before 2017 were removed from the website of the Civil Service Bureau.
Accordingly, in response to our request for the asset declarations of the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency and his/her deputy/deputies, the Civil Service Bureau referred to the Law of Georgia on State Secrets as a basis for classifying the documents.
It is noteworthy that the law does not provide an accurate list of officials whose declarations may be classified. According to the law, state secrets may include information about persons who confidentially cooperate or were cooperating with relevant Georgian authorities in the fields of intelligence, state security and law enforcement (the so-called "Odeers" may also fall under this category), as well as information about persons who are involved in the special protection programme for persons participating in criminal litigation.
The above allows for broad interpretation and restriction of public access to information, which is clearly contrary to the "principle of certainty" of law.
According to the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service, in addition to the head of the Agency, the heads of the divisions and main divisions and their deputies are also obliged to submit asset declarations. Due to the ambiguity of the norm, which does not specify which official's declaration shall be confidential, the declarations of the heads of other structural units and divisions of the State Security Service and their deputies have also been classified.
Stakeholders have the opportunity to access only the asset declaration of the head of the State Security Service and his deputies.
The Democracy Research Institute considers that classifying the declarations of the heads of structural units of the State Security Service, especially the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency and his/her deputies, represents a vicious practice, contradicts international standards, deepens distrust in an agency combating corruption and, in the absence of proper control, makes the State Security Service an even more closed agency.
Letter No. G 11875 of the Civil Service Bureau.
OECD ANTI-CORRUPTION NETWORK FOR EASTERN EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA, Anti-Corruption Reforms in GEORGIA Fourth Round of Monitoring of the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan, 2016, 129-136
Law on the State Security Service of Georgia, Article 5, subparagraph f).
United Nations Convention against Corruption, 2003
Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service, Article 19, the edition valid before January 1, 2017, https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/33550?publication=52
Letter No. G 11875 of the Civil Service Bureau.
Law of Georgia on State Secrets, Article 6, subparagraphs d.b.), d.c.).
According to this principle, not only the content of the law, but also the subject, purpose and scope of the regulation, must be clear, in order for the addressee of the norm to be able to interpret it correctly. Judgment of the Constitutional Court of Georgia in the case of the Public Defender of Georgia and the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association v. Parliament of Georgia, No. 2/3/406,408, October 30, 2008, https://www.constcourt.ge/ka/judicial-acts?legal=390
Civil Service Bureau website, https://declaration.gov.ge/,
Letter No. G11883 of the Civil Service Bureau, October 18.