Members of the Working Group for drafting legislative amendments on Secret Surveillance appeal to the Chairman of the Parliament
Dear Mr. Usupashvili,
We, as members of a working group for drafting legislative amendments on secret surveillance, address you as Chairman of the Parliament.
Mr. Shalva Shavgulidze, a member of the working group, brought to our attention the legislative initiative to postpone (until April 2015) new regulations governing law-enforcement agencies’ access to personal information available from electronic communications companies. The original legislation and regulations were to come into effect on 1 November 2014.
This legislative initiative was developed in the Legal Affairs Committee without agreement of the group working on this issue. Such actions are unacceptable as it ignores members of a working group constituted under the relevant laws, and set up by the Legal Committee has specifically for this issue.
After we learned about initiation of the draft law, eight members of the working group, including the Public Defender’s representative and two members of the Parliament of Georgia (Nino Goguadze and Tamar Kordzaia), approached the Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, Vakhtang Khmaladze. These members brought an application and asked to convene the working group immediately to discuss this initiative. Unfortunately, the working group was not convened.
There are already numerous conclusions of Council of Europe experts on the issue of secret surveillance, which stress the urgency of changing the current system in Georgia as a vital prerequisite for protecting human rights, including the right to privacy. European experts visiting Georgia on September 24-25 this year have submitted summary recommendations. The working group has not been convened since the experts’ latest review and recommendations. The group has not had the opportunity to discuss this issue, nor vote on it. As such, the Legal Committee’s decision to initiate the draft law using the expedited procedure, and bypassing the working group is inappropriate and not transparent.
We believe that deliberately bypassing the working group, and the decision to delay implementation of the new secret surveillance regulations, is ignoring the key principles of procedural democracy.
We consider that by upholding the postponement of this issue the Parliament of Georgia will in effect extend the degrading system of infringement by law-enforcement agencies into individuals’ private life. Law-enforcement agencies used this system as a weapon against political opponents and individuals with different opinions. It is unfortunate that the new authorities also find making bold political decisions a difficult task, and are unable (or unwilling) to give up a weapon that is a violation of human rights.
We hope that you personally, as the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, will not allow the extension of the malicious system of wiretapping in Georgia. By doing so, you will prove that Georgia has a chance to become a modern democratic state focused on human rights protection.
Members of the working group for drafting legislative amendments on secret surveillance: