One of the primary goals of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) is to enhance the rethinking of the Soviet Past in Georgia and raising public awareness in this direction through in-depth research and civil campaigns. For this, the organization has been publishing the reports about the incomplete lustration in the country and issuing the recommendations on the elaboration of the effective mechanisms.
Although, since 1991, there have been several attempts to implement the Lustration law in Georgia, the Georgian law “Freedom Charter” was only signed after 20 years, on 31 May 2011. The “Freedom Charter” has three purposes: 1. Elimination of the threat of crimes against the state, and terrorism and violation of the principles of state security; provision of the effective exercise of the legislative norms of Georgia and strengthening of national security in accordance with modern practices; 2. Provision of preventive measures against the principles of communist totalitarian and national socialist (Nazi) ideologies; 3. Elimination of the communist totalitarian and fascist symbols and propaganda. For the above-mentioned purposes, the law foresees the creation of a special commission at the State Security Service.
The Commission collects data and keeps a database of persons, who have secretly collaborated with the intelligence services of the former USSR or who might be the subject of secret cooperation with the intelligence services of the former USSR as provided for by the legislation of Georgia. The Commission also collects information on the use of symbols of the communist totalitarian and/or national socialist (Nazi) regimes in public space and addresses to the competent person in order to eliminate such symbols.
For studying the activities of the Commission established in accordance with the “Freedom Charter”, already in 2015, IDFI requested the information based on which, it became known that until 2015, the Commission had only gathered once and discussed the mechanisms for creating a registry foreseen by the “Freedom Charter”. In 2018, IDFI requested the information from the State Security Service again and found out that in 2016, the Commission asked two entities to stop displaying communist totalitarian symbols and three entities in 2017. Also, according to the State Security Service, in 2016-2017, the Commission discussed the appeals regarding the proposed candidates to the official positions and related restrictions. However, such violations were not detected. It should also be noted that the State Security Service does not specify the number of such appeals. This information cast doubt on the effectiveness of the commission and IDFI called for the state to establish a more effective commission, which would be interested in the comprehensive implementation of the “Freedom Charter” principles.
In 2020, IDFI still became interested in the work of the “Freedom Charter” commission in 2017-2019 and addressed to the State Security Service. According to the information received from the State Security Service, in 2017-2019, the commission addressed to the 37 competent persons to eliminate the communist totalitarian and fascist symbols and propaganda (0 cases in 2017, 5 cases in 2018 and 32 cases in 2019). Also, as reported by the State Security Service, the registry of the persons, who secretly collaborated with the security services of the USSR or whose links with the security services of the USSR has been evident in the data collected in compliance with the Georgian legislature, has been created. However, the State Security Service does not specify how many persons were included in the registry in 2017-2019. The most interesting fact is that, according to the State Security Service, not a single meeting of the “Freedom Charter” commission was held in 2017-2019.
It is also notable that according to the 1st paragraph of the 3rd Article of the Order №167 of the Minister of Internal Affairs issued on 28 February 2014, the Commission was obliged to meet at least once in every three months. However, Order №167, ordering the creation of the commission and defining its provisions, was annulled by Order №561 of the same Ministry on 30 July 2015. The new Order №115 of the State Security Service issued on 21 December 2015 a new Commission was created and according to the Order №122 of 30 December 2015, changes were made to the Order №115. The regulation of minimal mandatory commission gatherings was changed and such regulation does no longer exist anymore.
Today, the composition of the Commission is defined by the Order №122 of 6 December 2019. The members of the Commission are as follows:
a) Head of the Main Unit of Protection of State Secrets of the Counter-Intelligence Department of the State Security Service;
b) Deputy Director of the Counter-Intelligence Department of the State Security Service;
c) Deputy Head of the Counter-Terrorism Center of the State Security Service;
d) Head of the Law Department of the State Security Service;
e) Deputy Head of the 5th Main Unit of the State Security Department of the State Security Service;
f) Head of the Department of Inspection and Monitoring of Financial Violations of the State Security Service;
g) Deputy Head of the Department of Operations, Software and Archives of the State Security Service;
h) Head of Central Chancellery of the State Security Service;
Moreover, the following representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs can be involved in the work of the Commission:
a) Director of the Law Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA);
c) Director of the MIA Archives;
d) Head of Operational Recording and Archives Unit of the Information-Analytics Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
e) A representative of the Intelligence Service of Georgia.
It should also be noted that,according to the law, the factions represented in the Parliament of Georgia are granted the right to propose one candidate to the Commission. However, apparently, since 2016, the situation has not changed much and the engagement of the Parliament in the work of the Commission is low. As long as in the European countries, the legislative organ played the most important role in the successful implementation of lustration, the passivity of the Georgian Parliament in this direction is a negative indicator. Notably, in 2017-2019, the number of addresses regarding the elimination of the communist totalitarian and fascist symbols increased, which can be considered as a positive indicator. Therefore, when the public display of such symbols has intensified in the country during the last few years, it is vague why the commission did not hold a single meeting for all this time.
Based on all of the above-said, IDFI calls the members of the “Freedom Charter” Commission to enhance coordination. Also, it is important for the Commission to become more proactive and inform the society about its work regularly. Besides, IDFI calls the Parliament of Georgia to pay more attention to the work of the “Freedom Charter” Commission, ensure its parliamentary control and the individual factions to engage in the activities of the Commission.
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