This Affects You campaign on the delay of the secret surveillance reform - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

This Affects You campaign on the delay of the secret surveillance reform

06 July, 2016

The campaign This Affects You would like to respond to the delay in the initiation of draft laws on secret surveillance reform. We would first like to once again explain our reasoning behind the selected form and strategy of initiation.

The decision of the Constitutional Court to grant the claim of organizations in the This Affects You campaign served as the basis for developing the draft laws. According to the Court decision, the existing system of secret surveillance was declared unconstitutional and March 31, 2017 was set as a deadline for introducing a new system on both legal and practical levels. In order to meet this deadline, organizations that are part of the campaign developed draft laws on the bases of the Court decision and international best practice. The campaign also held active consultations with various political groups on the possible ways of initiating the draft laws. As a result of these consultations, the campaign decided to have the draft laws be initiated by two individual MPs - Vakhtang Khmaladze and Shalva Shavgulidze, who have in the past been associated with the reform of the secret surveillance system. The campaign thought that this way the draft laws would avoid being associated with any particular political group and that this would create a real prospect for implementing this extremely important and much needed reform.

MPs Vakhtang Khmaladze and Shalva Shavgulidze expressed their readiness to initiate the draft laws. A final agreement was reached between the campaign and these MPs on May 13, 2016. However, the campaign encountered serious difficulties when trying to move the draft law development process to the Parliament. Specifically, despite efforts from the campaign, the process of organizing an intensive work regime with the potential initiators was delayed.

The full and timely execution of the April 14 decision of the Constitutional Court is very important. For this reason, over the past several weeks the campaign had continuously expressed its readiness to further support and assist MPs, so that the draft laws could be registered on time. Considering this fact, the announcement made yesterday by the Republican Party is unexpected for us. According to the statement, the draft laws will be registered in July, which we believe is an unreasonable delay. The fact that the statement was made by a Parliamentary faction is also surprising, since the draft law was supposed to be initiated by specific MPs and not a faction. If the draft is initiated in July, the current Parliament will no longer have time to consider it, while the next Parliament will no longer have the obligation to do so.

Moreover, even if the draft law is initiated on time, unfortunately, the current Parliament is unlikely to support the reform of the secret surveillance system. Considering the fast approaching deadline set by the Constitutional Court (March 31, 2017), the inertness of political groups in the executive government and the Parliament is puzzling. It is also unfortunate that despite numerous attempts the campaign has been unable to meet with the Prime Minister.

Recent cases of blackmail through privacy have once again demonstrated the severity of the problem and the necessity of systemic reform. Under these circumstances, we believe that this issue cannot become a subject of political speculation and a way to score political points. Also unacceptable is the unreasonable delay of legislative reforms. Considering the content of the Constitutional Court decision, the draft law developed by the campaign is the only real alternative to the existing unconstitutional system. Therefore, we hope that the next Parliament will pay greater attention to the issue.