IDFI’s Statement on Personal Life Footage

Statements | Rule of Law and Human Rights 23 March 2021

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) responds to the facts mentioned in an interview given to the “Mtavari” channel by a former employee of the State Security Service of Georgia about the illegal extraction of personal life footage.

 

On March 22, the Office of the General Prosecutor launched an investigation regarding the allegations of possible violations of the secrecy of private communication committed by abusing one’s official position and the possible fact of exceeding official powers by certain public officials.

 

In recent years, the public has heard many times about blackmailing people with personal life footage. It is alarming that the targets of such actions are often women actively involved in public and political life.

 

The inviolability of a person's private life is guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia and is enshrined in a number of international legal acts. There is a serious protest in the society over the issues of covert surveillance and inviolability of private life, and there was a promise from the authorities that important measures would be taken in this regard. Nevertheless, threatening and blackmailing people, especially women, with private life recordings obtained through covert surveillance continues to be one of the most serious problems and challenges in our country.

 

The frequency of the facts of extraction and dissemination of covert surveillance records and the ineffective response to them indicates that the legal and institutional framework governing covert surveillance in Georgia fails to ensure adequate protection of privacy. There is no effective system of oversight and control in the country and no proper procedural guarantees to prevent the abuse of power by the state.

 

Herein, even in this particular case, considering the lack of public trust in law enforcement agencies, expectations for an effective and transparent investigation of this fact are low.

 

IDFI condemns all practices of unlawful invasion of privacy and considers it essential to respond effectively to specific facts as well as to systematically reform the legal framework governing the activities of the State Security Service and Operative-Technical Agency. However, given the high public interest, it is important for the investigative body to ensure that the public is informed about the progress of the investigation.

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