European anti-corruption body tells Georgia well done, but do more

TBILISI (Reuters) - The Council of Europe on Tuesday called on Georgia to do more to reduce corruption while at the same time acknowledging it had made considerable progress.

The Council's anti-corruption body, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), welcomed positive developments in the South Caucasus country of 3.7 million such as the introduction of a monitoring mechanism for submitting asset declarations by public officials including parliamentarians, judges and high-level prosecutors.

But it recommended further enhancing transparency of the legislative process through the publication of all draft legislation, and called for mandatory disclosure of parliamentarians' conflicts of interest.

GRECO said that continuation of the reform of the judiciary was of prime importance and welcomed the recently launched reform of the prosecution service with the view of de-politicising it.

"It is crucial now that the new rules be extended to cover all prosecutors, that they are effectively applied in practice and kept under constant review," GRECO said.

"Now the reform must be effectively implemented and possibly followed by additional measures to further reduce the influence of the government and parliamentary majority on the appointment procedure of the chief prosecutor and on the activity of the prosecutorial council," the report said.

Dozens of former state officials have been convicted in Georgia on various charges, including misspending funds, since a government led by former president Mikheil Saakashvili lost an election in Oct. 2012.

Western countries have aired concerns that the new government has used selective justice and political persecution against opponents in the mountainous country which is a pivot of geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the West.

Georgia is seeking closer links with both NATO and the European Union.

The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, promotes human rights and democracy in Europe and has 47 member states.

GRECO, which comprises 47 Council of Europe member states, Belarus and the United States, aims to improve the capacity of its members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with anti-corruption standards.

(Reporting by Margarita Antidze; editing by Jeremy Gaunt)


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