The messenger logo

Thomas Hammarberg gives recommendations to the MIA

By Keti Arjevanidze
Friday, July 26
Thomas Hammarberg, EU Special Adviser on Legal and Constitutional Reform and Human Rights in Georgia, said illegal recordings of the private lives of individuals have no value in a court of law and must be destroyed. "The existence of the illegal recordings is a reflection of extremely serious crimes requiring both a judicial and a political response." Hammarberg said.

Hammarberg said the dissemination of recordings violates privacy rights and must also be regarded as criminal. Blackmailing based on recordings is of course highly illegal and ethically questionable.

The EU Special Adviser thinks that the possession of illegal recordings must be criminalized, although he clarified that several exceptions should be considered such as authorized archiving. Hammarberg stated that the aim should be to protect the privacy of all persons who have been targeted. "At the same time it is important to collect evidence which could strengthen legal actions against the culprits." Hammarberg suggested.

According to Hammarberg, the special commission has the central responsibility of destroying illegal surveillance recordings. Hammarberg added that the activities in this area can be regulated by law and put under democratic and judicial control. "Here the government, not least the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament have a crucial challenge. The MIA might be responsible for the execution of the decisions though under the oversight of Commission members." he suggested.

Hammarberg suggested that the possibility of protecting victims and bringing those responsible to justice exists. "This is why I suggest this advisory document is a preliminary one and declare that I am open to further exchanges on these important issues.” he concluded.

Hammarberg’s recommendations were followed by comments of MPs and independent analysts. According to the Georgian Dream MP Davit Saganelidze, parliamentary materials including private life details should be destroyed and other type of recordings should be examined properly. United National Movement (UNM) MP Akaki Bobokhidze shares the same opinion. “Such materials should not only be destroyed but be responded to in an appropriate manner." Bobokhidze said.

Kakha Kakhishvili, head of Election Technologies Research Center, thinks that material that includes illegal surveillance of individual's private lives should be categorized as evidence of criminal activity. According to Kakhishvili, a decision should be made whether to destroy such material or not.

The total number of illegal recordings made by the Georgian police is approximately 24,000. According to MIA spokesperson Nino Giorgobiani that number might increase as the investigation continues.