Academic journal article CEU Political Science Journal

The Drivers of Police Reform: The Cases of Georgia and Armenia

Academic journal article CEU Political Science Journal

The Drivers of Police Reform: The Cases of Georgia and Armenia

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The question of corruption has been on the agenda of such organizations as the UNDP since the early 1990s. Corruption can distort the operation of public services and can also reduce the efficiency of companies, when they become specialized in bribe-giving. (1) Fighting corruption is also on the agenda of such organizations as the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the OECD and many others. Indeed, around the world countries have been fighting corruption yet only a small proportion of anti-corruption programs succeed. Singapore and Taiwan are among the famous examples. As Transparency International notes, corruption is especially dangerous when it is a feature of the police, who are supposed to be guardians of the society. One country which achieved significant progress in fighting corruption in the police force is Georgia. (2) The World Bank writes: "Georgia's experience shows that the vicious cycle of endemic corruption can be broken and, with appropriate and decisive reforms, can be turned into a virtuous cycle". (3) On the other hand, anticorruption efforts have also been made in Armenia since the beginning of the 2000s, and part of this effort included police reform. Nevertheless, the reforms did not deliver significant results. Transparency International's index demonstrates that in public opinion the police are among the institutions perceived as the most affected by corruption. (4)

This study analyzes why the police reform in Armenia has been less successful than in Georgia. It does not claim that the reforms completely eradicated corruption in either country. It is unarguable that the success can be called only relative, and there are more steps to be taken to increase the level of public service; nevertheless, the pace and progress of the improvement deserves the attention given to its defining factors in this study. The study touches only upon police reform and considers only changes and progress made in this sector in Armenia and Georgia, therefore, the conclusions can be inferred only to other cases of police reforms in similar countries.

Lower corruption is used in this paper as an indicator of the successful outcome as it was one of the major objectives of the implementation of the reforms. The concept of corruption used in this study is taken from Svensson: "the misuse of public office for private gain" (5). There could be used different indicators for assessing the police reform in Armenia and Georgia; for example, Sun suggest the number of registered crimes or a number of cleared cases. Though such statistics exist, various reports state that the data in Georgia before the reform did not reflect reality as the population did not have enough trust in the police to call for help (6). Therefore, due to this and to the fact that the reforms were clearly directed at eliminating corruption, the Transparency International Index was used in this study.

The literature on the difference in anti-corruption reforms and their results in the post-Soviet region is quite extensive. For example, Peter Nasuti focuses on the factors which determine success of the reforms in Georgia. (7) He makes a suggestion that state capacity can be such a determinant. However, in opposite, this study suggests that higher state capacity is an achievement of the reforms, not the factor which defines their successful implementation. Also, Kakachia and O'Shea argue that the difference between the outcomes of the police reforms in Russia and Georgia is connected to measures (such as salary increase) taken by the reformers in eliminating predatory state behavior, the nature of relations with criminals and procedures for the recruitment and promotion of police officers. (8) They also argue that in Georgia success was due to the unity of the elite; nevertheless, the authors ignore that even though the government can be renewed there can still be bureaucrats who restrict the reformers. This article does consider this dimension and explains why relations between the government and the losers of the reform are so important. …

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