On March 1, the Georgian Parliament approved a package of legislative amendments with the third and final hearing that involves creating a new agency under the State Security Service that will carry out secret surveillance activities.
Media outlets have recently disseminated information about participation of a judge reviewing the case of Rustavi 2 in corrupt deals and about alleged pressure on two judges of the Supreme Court who are also involved in examining the case.
On February 6, the parliamentary majority initiated a legislative package that regulates the conduct of covert investigative actions in a new way. The legislative package provides for the creation of a legal entity of public law, Operative-Technical Agency of Georgia, which will be responsible for covert surveillance and eavesdropping. Together with technical implementation of eavesdropping, the agency will have a number of other functions, which makes it an interested entity in obtaining as much information as possible.
Today European Union once again recognized the historical aspiration of Georgian people to be part of Europe and reached an agreement on visa liberalization for Georgia. Soon, citizens of Georgia will be able to travel through Europe without visas. The Coalition for Euro-Atlantic Georgia extends special gratitude to the European family and supports this decision.
Reportedly, the Constitutional Court declared the acting legislation unconstitutional, which regulates secret surveillance and listening. In its decision, the Court stated that creation, possession, administration and use of technical tools for the obtaining of the personal data in real time and ability to have direct access to the personal data with the support of these tools, also copying and retaining metadata by the very same agency, which itself is carrying out investigation increases threat of unreasonable interference in personal life.
The Coalition welcomes the proposal to regulate a probable number of judgesin the law. The Venice Commission underlined the need to balance the power of government branches with respect to the establishment of the number of judges, judicial appointments, and allocation of resources needed for an increase in the number of judges. The powers have to be balanced in a way that will limit the Parliament’s or President’s undue influence on the increase of the number of judges. The President’s objections confirm the need to establish a balance of power in line with the Venice Commission’s opinion. In addition, the President proposes to the Parliament to regulate the issue of the number of judges after having considered better guarantees of judicial independence.
The Coalition calls on the government to carefully consider the deficiencies of the previous process and make appropriate changes in the process of composing a new commission, deciding the rules of its work and the working process. This will ensure that the process is vigorous and in accordance with the standards set by the Council of Europe. The Coalition is ready to cooperate with the relevant authorities to overcome the deficiencies and meeting the above objectives.
The Georgian Parliament has launched discussions on amending the Constitution. Non-governmental organizations, including members of the Coalition for Euro-Atlantic Georgia, have called the Constitutional Commission to include the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations in the preamble of the Constitution.
We believe that the arguments presented by the government about the new agreement are not satisfactory and that the new conditions will worsen Georgia’s energy security.
Due to high public interest, we expect the Board of the Georgian Public Broadcaster to conduct the selection process in an open and transparent manner.
|13 March 2020|