Adoption of amendments to the law on secret surveillance should not be postponed - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Adoption of amendments to the law on secret surveillance should not be postponed

28 April, 2014

According to latest media reports, the National Security and Crisis Management Council proposed to create a temporary interagency task force in order to fulfil commitments under the national strategy of human rights protection, specifically, amendment of the law on covert investigative activities. The task force will unite representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor’s Office.

The statement also states that it is necessary for civil society and international organizations to be actively involved in the process of creating the national strategy for securing personal information. This involvement will ensure that national security issues will be regulated through securing of the constitutional right to privacy and based on the  experience of western countries, while also taking into account existing challenges in the country.   

We welcome the government’s efforts to take effective steps towards securing the right of privacy. We believe this initiative was started because of existing problems in secret surveillance, both in law and in practice.

We want to stress that several of the campaign member non-governmental organizations have been studying problems related to secret surveillance and it’s international practice for almost three years. In addition, it has already been 9 months since a special task force set up under the Legal Committee of the Parliament started close cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, international organizations and NGOs in order to ensure that the legislative initiative proposed by NGOs and praised by the Legal Committee complies with best international practices. The bill has also been evaluated by the Council of Europe and the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law.

We hope that the temporary interagency task force was set up in order to implement legal initiatives approved by precisely these progressive, international experts. Otherwise, it is not clear what the goal of this new task force is. In case the government does not take part in parliamentary hearings, which are already in an active phase of implementing changes, there will be no doubt that the executive branch of government, law enforcement agencies in particular, are deliberately trying to prolong and hamper the legislative process. NGOs that are part of This Affect You campaign call on the government to act in the interests of its citizens and contribute to the process of ultimately eliminating the vicious practice of surveillance and eavesdropping and implementing internationally accepted methods. We believe that supporting the legal initiative currently being reviewed by the parliamentary task force will be an important step towards Georgia’s European integration. We also call on the Parliament not to drag out the review process for the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code.