Local civil society organisations concerned about anti-democratic developments in Georgia

Thirteen local civil society organisations (CSOs) released a statement on October 1 regarding the current situation in Georgia, following the controversial Omega Group case. According to a secret recording, the Omega Group, a Georgian business corporation, was asked to transfer fixed sums of money to the accounts of the ruling Georgian Dream party in return for the government protecting the group’s business interests.

The joint statement reflects the concerns of many Georgian CSOs about “clear signs of grand corruption and informal clan rule” in the country. CSOs criticised the occurrence of many cases over recent years in which it is claimed that certain individuals are above the law, stating that “the parallel existence of formal and informal governance undermines the system of democratic accountability, strips the formal decision-makers of their responsibilities and alienates the citizens from the political system.”

According to the CSO statement, lack of judicial independence, politicisation of law-enforcement structures, inability of parliament to function as a political centre and misappropriation of public resources by narrow groups are major indicators of the crisis of government. Given these circumstances, local CSOs believe respective measures should be taken to ensure democratic governance.

These include the responsibility of state institutions to act based on only constitutional obligations and public interests and a need to publicise cases of potential abuse of power and illegal interference in the work of public institutions by current and former public officials, as well as businessmen. The statement also calls upon the international partners of Georgia to closely consider the extent to which the country’s government fulfills its commitments, especially in the fields of human rights and the rule of law.