Freedom of Information in Georgia
Georgia’s Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation has been comparatively well-established. The right to access government information has been a part of the Administrative Code of Georgia since 1999, with various changes including the amendments requiring public agencies to proactively disclose information and establishing citizens right to request and receive public information electronically. Through the signing of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) accord and the development of an OGP action plan covering some aspects of FOI, the transparency policy of the government has experienced further highlighting.
There is a Civil Society Organization (CSO) community working on the analysis and improvement of the FOI regime. With the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), Georgia Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Transparency International - Georgia (TI-G), and Green Alternative, the FOI framework and the way it is put into practice is constantly assessed, compared to international developments and documented in its practical implementation. These and similar organizations also are responsible for a considerable share of the FOI requests made to government, seeking to further improve transparency of government conduct and activities, and also testing the quality of FOI implementation.
The FOI provisions embedded in the Administrative Code of Georgia have been in place for over a decade and in general, as mentioned above, there is a workable system in place. However, despite the amendments introduced, there are two lines of argument for adjusting this existing system:
a) In the practice of implementing and using the system, specific shortcomings have become evident, suggesting a case for addressing these and making adjustments both on the legal and institutional level;
b) International standards for FOI regimes have considerably evolved since the Georgian FOI provisions came into effect. A modernization of the Georgian regime is called for in order to avoid falling behind these standards, to support the current policy priority of a modern participatory democracy.
Georgian CSOs in participation with governmental representatives, international organizations, academics, and media, have just started working on full-scale reform to the country's Freedom of Information legislature aiming to establish completely new standards for transparency and accountability of public agencies.