D E M O C R A C Y   I N D E X

Delayed publication of bills hinders involvement of civil society organizations in legislative processes
2021-03-30

The Parliament of Georgia tends to delay the publication of draft laws, which is a significant obstacle for those eager to participate in the law-making process. Delayed promulgation becomes a more acute problem when a bill is discussed in an accelerated manner, which in turn prevents involvement due to the tighter consideration deadlines.

At the meeting of March 29, 2021, the Bureau reviewed a draft law on amending the procedure of selection of judiciary for the Supreme Court.[1] The bill is considered in an expedited manner. The bill concerns one of the most important and high-interest matters - the rule for the appointment of judges. At the end of the Bureau session, the agenda was changed based on an appeal of the members of the Legal Issues Committee at the Committee’s sitting and the above issue was added to the agenda for consideration. It is noteworthy that the legislative package was published after the Bureau meeting was over. This practically eliminated the opportunity to scrutinize the full version of the draft law and submit an opinion concerning it within the first hearing during the sitting of the Legal Cases Committee.

Although the Committee discussion was attended by several representatives of civil organizations, it should be emphasized that the involvement process is not regulated, nor is it equipped with an open and transparent procedure that would give other stakeholders equal opportunities to present their views. Besides, participation cannot be achieved by mere physical presence. An in-depth analysis of the issue requires at least a possibility to get acquainted with the bill under question, around which substantive discussions should take place.

This vicious practice has already taken root in the Parliament. Bills are published not upon their registration but when they are presented to the Bureau. In the course of the monitoring, there were cases when the draft bill to be discussed at a committee sitting was not published even for the moment of the commencement of the discussion, which has been evidenced by a number of examples:

- The package of legislative changes envisaging the termination or suspension of funding for political parties that do not fully assume their mandates,[2] was published with a delay. In particular, the package of bills was submitted to the Parliament on December 16 and was promulgated on the website of the Parliament on December 21, a few hours prior to the start of the Committee sitting.

- A draft law on amending the Local Self-Government Code[3] was presented to the Committee for consideration without having had it published.

We call on the Parliament to publish draft laws upon their registration to ensure access to the bills and the involvement of stakeholders in the legislative process.

 

[1] https://info.parliament.ge/#law-drafting/21840

[2] A package of Amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia on Political Associations of Citizens https://info.parliament.ge/#law-drafting/21127; A package of amendments to the Election Code - https://info.parliament.ge/#law-drafting/21130; Amendments to the Rules of Procedure -  https://info.parliament.ge/#law-drafting/21131

[3] The Bill "On amending the Law On Local Self-Government" - https://info.parliament.ge/#law-drafting/21175