Public Disclosure of the Data about Phone Conversation Eavesdropping

News | FIGHTING CORRUPTION | Publications | Analysis 10 October 2013

Author Nino Tsukhishvili

On 21st December, 2012 the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) officially requested from the Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi City Courts and on 2nd May, 2013  from the Internal Affairs Ministry, the Prosecutor General  Office and the Investigative Department of the Ministry of Finance the information, within the period of the of 1St November 2012 upon the acceptance of the letters, of the following statistics:

1. Number of solicitations “about the phone conversation eavesdropping and recording” submitted to the Court to conduct the operative-investigative actions;

2. Number of the contented solicitations by the Court to conduct the operative- investigative actions "about the phone conversation eavesdropping and recording;”

3. Number of the legally recognized operative-investigative solicitations “about the phone conversation eavesdropping and recording” of the operative- investigative actions, carried without the sanctions of the judge, issued by the courts; 

4. Number  of the illegally recognized operative- investigative solicitations  "about the phone conversation eavesdropping and recording” of the operative- investigative actions, carried without the sanctions of the judge, issued by the courts; 

IDFI has received the contradictive and diverse responses in connection with the mentioned public information requests from the public authorities.

The information requested is not considered by the Persecutor General Office of Georgia as top secret, but it indicates that the requested information  does not exist in the processed format and requests of one month period  to file the information.

Persecutor General Office Correspondence

about the data of motions of  1207 

In succession, on 23rd June, 2013, the Persecutor General Office sent the requested dossier of the motions “about the phone conversation eavesdropping –recording” submitted   to the court. According to the information received from the Persecutor General Office (within the period of 1st November 2012 to 9 May 2013) the data of motions were 1207.

The Persecutor General Office was a particular case amongst the other authorities that received the IDFI request on the public information.

The requested information is not considered as the top secret by the  Batumi City Court. Thoughin the letter, it refers that the above mentioned information does not exist in the processed format and does not see the primarily necessity of the court as the Court Apparatus is obliged to fulfill its duties under the Court regulations.

Both  in letters of the Internal Affairs Ministry and the Investigative Department of the Ministry of Finance, it is stipulated the General Administration Code of Georgia, Article 3, Part 4, a and b subparagraphs in the communications sent to the Institute. According to the GACG Article 3 Part 4.

The Kutaisi and Tbilisi City Courts did not respond to the IDFI requested information. In line with fixed terms of the legislation, the IDFI lodged the appeal in the Kutaisi and Tbilisi City Courts to oblige the courts to issue the public information requested.

On 12 March, 2013,  the IDFI complaint was not satisfied by the verdict of the Kutaisi City Court. The Court  verdict indicates that  "the requested information-  dossier by the plaintiff is not protected in the court.” The processing of the requested information required lots of effort as well as preparation and searching for files and cases, which would interfere with the proper functioning of the court under its capacities by the law.  The Kutaisi City Court also noted that the processing the requested information of the plaintiff was not proportional to the human resources of the administrative body.

While proceedings the IDFI lawsuit, the Tbilisi City Court noted that the requested information was a state top secret according to the Law on the State Top Secret of Georgia, Article 7, Paragraph 4 a and Law on Operative Investigative measures article 5, paragraph 1 which does not categorized the information as the public information. 

Despite the mentioned viewpoint of the Tbilisi City Court, the Judge had not taken into consideration the Tbilisi City Court Viewpoint, issued the verdict  in favor of the IDFI on 26th September 2013.

The Judge, Nino Oniani concluded that the requested information is public information and assigned the Tbilisi City Court to provide the organization with the public information requested. 

Out of the developments mentioned above, we conclude that the public authorities have diverse views about disclosure of the  operative investigative  data:  

  • The Kutaisi and Batumi City Courts confirmed the requested information as public , but refused to provide information on the grounds that the requested information was required lots of efforts  to prepare the dossier  in court,  which could prevent the normal functioning of the judiciary;
  • The Tbilisi City court considered the requested information as a state secret;
  • The Interior Ministry and the Investigative Department of the Finance Ministry  considered that the requested information does not apply to the General Administrative Code;
  • The Prosecutor General Office of Georgia  provided the institute with  complete requested information as considered it of  the public information;

The data about eavesdropping is deemed by the IDFI as the public information, in result the public authorities are obliged to disclose the information in compliance with the legislation as it  is characterized only as  the statistics without the content of the operative investigation actions taken and disclosure will not make harm on identification of the secret data of the operative investigative measures carried out. 

IDFI appreciate the verdict of 26 September 2013 of the Tbilisi City Court about the Operative Investigative statistics information as the public information. IDFI  suggests to establish the general standards,  the information to be supplied  by the public authorities.  

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