A statement on arguments provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs on covert patrolling - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

A statement on arguments provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs on covert patrolling

17 March, 2016


Transparency International (TI) Georgia made a statement several days ago and called the new draft amendments introducing “covert patrolling” a violation of privacy and personal data of citizens.

Representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs tried to provide explanations on norms of contactless patrolling in several media outlets. The provided explanation and the initiated amendments differ from each other and contain different rules of regulation, specifically:

  • According to the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, citizens will be informed about covert video monitoring according to the existing legislation, specifically, “this issue is already resolved in Paragraph 2 of Article 27, where it is defined that information regarding video monitoring must be visibly displayed”. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is trying to change this Article[1] with the initiated amendments and is creating exceptions to this norm. Thus, according to the initiated amendments, during covert video monitoring, information will not be visually displayed. It is unclear why the Ministry of Internal Affairs is referring to the existing norm and does not inform the society that is planning to change this norm.
  • According to the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs contactless patrolling and covert patrolling differ from each other. Contactless patrolling implies only installation of cameras in public spaces with appropriate warning signs. The initiated amendment includes not only contactless patrolling, but also covert video and audio recording for patrolling purposes

We underline once more, that covert video and audio recording, no matter goals of such activity, is an invasion of privacy of citizens and violation of their personal data. According to the Constitution of Georgia such restriction of rights can take place only during an investigation of grave or extremely grave crimes and under a court warrant. In all other cases, video and audio supervision should be accompanied with an appropriate warning sign. The Venice Commission in its 2007 report wrote that in cases where public areas are monitored using video cameras, appropriate warning signs should be visually displayed. This serves the interest of protection of privacy.

If the Ministry of Internal Affairs makes amendments to the initiated draft and will notify public that a certain area is under contactless patrolling and therefore video monitoring is taking place, it is unclear, why video cameras cannot be installed on fixed items or on visually identifiable police cars and why there is a need to install such cameras on cars that are not visually identifiable as belonging to police. It is also unclear if in cases of traffic violations, these non-identifiable cars will be empowered to stop the violating  vehicles. If such is the case, what will be the procedure.


[1] “Except for cases involving transport safety, photo/video equipment mounted on/in visually identifiable police vehicles, or vehicles without such characteristics belonging to police, and cases of installation and usage of non-stationary (mobile) speed testing equipment”.