Georgia

What's New

  • 3 June 2015

    Slipping Compliance Prompts Call for Georgia FOI Reform

    The rate of response to freedom of information requests by the Georgian government has dipped recently, according to a new report that urges the government to follow through on a promise to pass a new FOI law. The description is contained in a chapter of a report,“Government: Georgian Dream’s Performance Review,” was presented on May […]

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  • 12 March 2015

    Positives and Negatives Seen in Review of Georgia FOI

    Positive changes in terms of access to public information in Georgia were seen immediately after the parliamentary elections of October 2012, but the level of access to information was gradually decreasing in a number of state entities, according to a new report by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information. IDFI has been monitoring […]

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News Archive

  • 5 August 2014

    New System Evaluates Four Countries’ Online Disclosures

    The adequacy of online information disclosure in four countries has been tested with a new methodology that the researchers hope can be refined for wider use. The study covers four countries – Russia, the United States, Georgia and Belarus. It examines whether their official websites provide information in 47 specific categories and rates the adequacy […]

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  • 7 October 2013

    Awards Programs Reward Effort, Chastise Opacity

    By Toby McIntosh Only this audience would laugh so heartily at five surrealistic stories about government denials of access to public information. The incredulous appreciation of unfortunate stories stemmed from shared experience. The 100 persons attending the annual awards ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria, were a community celebrating the pro-transparency efforts of journalists, activists and public officials. “Golden Key” […]

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  • 6 September 2013

    Georgia Decree Mandates More Proactive Disclosure

    The government of Georgia has published a decree concerning online requests for information and proactive disclosure of information. The decree published July 26 follows through on commitments made in the context of Georgia’s action plan as a member of the Open Government Partnership. The decree (in English) contains seven sections, defining standards of Public information disclosure, rules […]

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  • 21 June 2012

    Georgia Adopts Standards About Proactive Disclosure

    By Giorgi Kldiashvili Kldiashvili is the Director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information based in Tbilisi. The General Administrative Code of Georgia, which regulates the Freedom of Information in Georgia, was adopted in 1999 and was pretty advanced at that moment.  Nowadays is a little bit outdated and has some very significant […]

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  • 23 April 2012

    Local Bodies Score Better in Georgia Access Study

    Access to information by local governments in Georgia is provided “at a higher level and commitment” than by the central government, according to a study by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information. The latest study was the second phase of research using requests to numerous government bodies to gauge compliance with the law. […]

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  • 2 September 2011

    17 Countries Pledge to Join Open Government Partnership

    Nine countries plus the initial core group of eight have pledged to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a U.S. official told FreedomInfo.org  Sept. 2, bringing total membership to 17. The nine countries that have sent in “letters of intent” are Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras, Albania, Macedonia, Malta, Georgia, Moldova and Slovakia. More letters are expected, […]

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  • 4 March 2011

    Reports Faults Georgia on FOI Responses, Websites

    The Georgian freedom of information law needs reform to prevent public officials from hiding information, according to one of two new reports by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). In another report, the institute strongly criticizes the websites of public institutions.  The conclusions in Electronic Transparency in Georgia were based on audits […]

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  • 8 December 2010

    Georgia Access Regime Needs Fixing, OSI says

    A variety of legislative and administrative recommendations to remedy perceived weaknesses in Georgia’s access to information practices are made in a new report by the Open Society Institute. The recommendations are an outgroeth of a four-country study in which requestors sought information, with mixed success. The section on Georgia says the public institutions were not delivering […]

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  • 12 November 2010

    Georgia Media Ownership Bill Lacks Other Access Clauses

    A proposal to require the disclosure of media ownership in Georgia does not include wider provisions on access to public records. The website for the group Civil Georgia reported that the ruling party Nov. 12 tabled a draft law, which, if approved, will limit offshore-registered firms’ ownership in broadcast media outlets in Georgia. The proposal […]

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  • 19 June 2009

    12 European Countries Sign First International Convention on Access to Official Documents

    Advocates Urge 37 Remaining Council of Europe Members to Sign Tromsø, Norway — On June 18, 2009, 12 of 47 member-states of the Council of Europe signed the Convention on Access to Official Documents, making history as the first international binding legal instrument that recognizes a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities. […]

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  • 22 May 2009

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    ? ??? 2009 ???? ?? ??????? ????????? ? ?????? ???? ????????? ?????? ??????? ??????? ? ?????????? ? ?????????  ???????? ? ??????? ??????, ?????? — ????? 25 ?????????? ??????? ?????????? ?? ??????????? ??????? ????????? ? 8 ?? 11  ??? 2009 ??? ?????????? ??????????????? ? ??????? ? ??????? ? ??? ????????? ????? ????????? ??? ?????????? ????? ??????? […]

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  • 22 May 2009

    Caucasus FOI Advocates Discuss Common Problems and Plan Cooperation

    May 2009 Workshop in Georgia Compares FOI Laws and Practices Across Region Telavi, Georgia — Some 25 freedom of information advocates and practitioners from the Caucasus region convened on May 8-11, 2009, to compare the laws and the practices across the region and to outline some common strategies to strengthen the right of access in […]

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  • 1 December 2008

    International Lenders Permit Georgia to Limit Release

    of Information; Groups Protest Lack of Transparency Transparency was a casualty when international donors gathered recently to consider emergency aid to Georgia. Civil society groups requested disclosure of the primary document to be discussed at the multi-donor conference — the “Joint Needs Assessment.” On the day before the meeting, a summary was released by the […]

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  • 5 August 2008

    President Carter Disseminates Atlanta Declaration to Advance Right to Information Worldwide

    Last month, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter forwarded the Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Right to Information to all heads of state and leaders of the major international organizations and financial institutions. President Carter urged these leaders to ensure the right of access to information and its implementation and […]

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  • 9 May 2005

    Article 19 Reports on Freedom of Information in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia

    A report from London-based NGO Article 19 on freedom of information legislation and its impact on the news media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, finds that problems with implementation, state secrets legislation, and a Soviet-style predilection for excessive secrecy have created “the environment for arbitrary refusals, manipulation of information, and, in extreme cases, even release […]

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  • 9 May 2005

    REPORT: Article 19 on Freedom of Information in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

    A report from London-based NGO Article 19 on freedom of information legislation and its impact on the news media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, finds that problems with implementation, state secrets legislation, and a Soviet-style predilection for excessive secrecy have created "the environment for arbitrary refusals, manipulation of information, and, in extreme cases, even release […]

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  • 1 June 2002

    World Bank Begins Pilot Programs on Disclosure

    Some 20 countries are about to embark on pilot programs with the World Bank in which they will disclose and disseminate more information than they have in the past – that is, more than what Bank policy currently requires. The exact dimensions of this effort will become clearer once the Bank makes an official announcement […]

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links

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Constitution of the Republic of Georgia

 

General Administrative Code of Georgia 2002

 

Law on Freedom of Information

 

ORGANIZATIONS

Georgian Young Lawyers' Association [in Georgian]

 

Liberty Institute Georgia

 

Iris Georgia

 

Open Society Georgia Foundation

 

Transparency International Georgia

 

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information

 

OTHER RESOURCES

Article 19 Report: Freedom of Information in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Click to view.

Text from the freedominfo.org Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Constitution of Georgia includes two provisions specifying a right of access to information.(1)

Article 37(5). Individuals have the right to complete, objective and timely information on their working and living conditions.

Article 41(1). Every citizen has the right according to the law to know information about himself which exists in state institutions as long as they do not contain state, professional or commercial secrets, as well as with official records existing there. (2). Information existing in official papers connected with health, finances or other private matters of an individual are not available to other individuals without the prior consent of the affected individual, except in cases determined by law, when it is necessary for the state and public security, defense of health, rights and freedoms of others.

The General Administrative Code of Georgia was adopted in 1999.(2) Chapter 3 of the Code is entitled "Freedom of Information." It sets a general presumption that information kept, received or held by a public agency should be open. All public information should be entered into a public register in two days.

The law gives anyone the right to submit a written request for public information regardless of the form that information takes and without having to state the reasons for the request. The agency must respond immediately and can only delay if the information is in another locality, is of a significant volume or is at another agency. Fees can only be applied for copying costs. The law also sets rules on the access and use of personal information.

There are exemptions for information that is protected by another law or that which is considered a state, commercial, professional or personal secret. Names of some public servants participating in a decision by an official can be withheld under executive privilege but the papers can be released. The 2001 amendment prohibits the withholding of the names of political officials.

Information relating to the environment and hazards to health, structures and objectives of agencies, election results, results of audits and inspections, registers of information and any other information that is not state, commercial, or personal secrets cannot be classified. All public information created before 1990 is open. Agencies are also required to issue reports each year on the requests and their responses under the Act.

Those whose requests have been denied can appeal internally or can ask a court to nullify an agency decision. The court can review classified information to see if it has been classified properly. The Supreme Court ruled in June 2003 that legal fees can be obtained as damages when a requester wins a case. It agreed in March 2006 to hear a case brought by the Georgian Young Lawyers Association on the constitutionality of limits to access to information in the Administrative Code.

The OECD said in 2005 that "is a well-known fact that FOI Chapter is one of the best-implemented laws in Georgia, which is conditioned mostly by the special interest of diverse donors."(3) A survey of public officials by Article 19 and national partners in 2004 found that all the public officials were aware of legal obligations to release information and 92 percent were aware of the FOI provisions of the Administrative Code.(4)

However there are still problems with implementation including a lack of promotion by officials, demands for reasons for requests (declining but still common), failure of some bodies to create registries, failure of administrative appeals and sanctions, and slowness by courts.(5) The Ombudsman in 2004 found that most public authorities are not fulfilling their obligations for reports.(6) The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy conducted a national survey of public accessibility of information in 2001 and found that it was still difficult for ordinary citizens to obtain information.(7) The OECD's Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Economies recommended in January 2004 that the government:

Ensure that the access to information legislation limits discretion on the part of the public officials in charge as to whether the requested information should be disclosed, and to limit the scope of information that could be withheld. Consider steps to reach out to both, public officials as well as citizens to raise awareness about their responsibilities and rights under the access to information regulations.(8)

The Law on State Secrets sets rules on the classification of information where "disclosure or loss of which may inflict harm on the sovereignty, constitutional framework or political and economic interests of Georgia".(9) There are three categories with fixed terms for the length of classification: "Of Extraordinary Importance"- 20 years, Top Secret - 10 years and Secret - 5 years. The State Inspection for Protection of State Secrets oversees the protection of secrets and can order declassification. A 1997 decree sets the procedures on classification.(10) Information shall be declassified no later than the end of the fixed term (unless it is extended by the President) or when it is no longer necessary to be classified. All information about the construction of the President's residence was decreed to be a state secret in 2004.

The Criminal Code prohibits the disclosure of personal secrets, state secrets, and other secret information.(11)

Georgia signed the Aarhus Convention in June 1998 and ratified it in April 2000. The Law on Environmental Protection provides for a right to information about the environment and other related laws provide for public registers.(12) The Article 19 study in 2004 found that only 52 percent of the public officials surveyed know about the convention and only ten percent relied on its provisions to releasing information. An Act on State Environmental Control was adopted in June 2005.

2004 freedominfo.org Global Survey Results - Georgia

NOTES

Constitution of the Republic of Georgia.

General Administrative Code of Georgia 2002. http://www.ifes.ge/files/laws/code_general.html. For more information see IRIS, Freedom of Information Guide, 2002.

Fighting Corruption in Transition Economies: Georgia OECD 2005.

Article 19, Under Lock and Key: Freedom of Information and the Media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, April 2005.

Transparency International Georgia, Adherence to the Anti-Corruption Recommendations of the Oecd's Anti- Corruption Network (Acn) Recommendations by the Government of Georgia - Alternative Report, December 2005.

Office of the Public Defender of Georgia, Report on conditions of Human Rights in Georgia in 2004, 2005.

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, The report on the monitoring of openness and accessibility of information, 2002.

Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Economies, Regional Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Ukraine: Georgia - Summary of assessment and recommendations, 21 January 2004.

Law On State Secrets. No. 455. 29 October 1996. http://www.irisprojects.umd.edu/georgia/Laws/English/law_state_secrets.pdf

"The Procedure for Defining the Information as a State Secret and its Protection" Decree No. 42 of the President of Georgia of 1997, 21 January 1997.

Criminal Code. http://www.ifes.ge/files/laws/criminal_code.html

See UNECE, Environmental Performance Reviews - Georgia 2003. http://www.unece.org/env/epr/studies/georgia/

 

 

Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.