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Parliament managed to override Presidentís veto

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, December 1
President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed a bill on surveillance adopted by parliament on November 28 that envisaged granting access to surveillance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and the Personal Data Protection Inspector after receiving the courtís permission.

The president admitted that debates and discussions over the draft have demonstrated Georgiaís democratic characteristics. However, he stressed that the draft offered by three majority MPs Eka Beselia, Gedevan Popkhadze and Irakli Sesiahsvili failed to balance human rights and state security issues.

The president presented an alternative version of the bill to the parliament.

Margvelashviliís initiative read that the MIA would carry out the process of surveillance. However, the court would issue an order over surveillance and at the same time it would possess the final access to surveillance. Without the courtís permission and its electronic approval, the MIA would not be allowed to carry out surveillance. The presidentís initiative also envisaged the whole process being monitored by the Personal Data Protection Inspector.

Majority representatives Eka Beselia and Davit Saganelidze claimed that the initiative offered by the president was too obscure. They were confident that the parliament would override the presidentís veto.

Republican coalition members, who originally refrained from voting on the Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili draft, stated that they were against MIA involvement in the surveillance process.

ďWe do not have any aspiration to override the veto. We will make a decision when the president presents his initiative,ď Republican MP Davit Berdzenishvili said.

The opposition United National Movement and Free Democrats stated that they do not support the initiative pushed forward by the president. They stress that they are against of giving any access to the MIA with regard to surveillance.

The adoption of the presidentís initiative required the votes of one-third of parliament, but the initiative did not gather enough parliamentary support and the Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili draft was voted on again on November 30. The draft received 82 votes, therefore the parliament was able to override the presidentís veto. In the case that the president still refrains from signing it into law, the parliament speaker will have to do it.

The law will be strictly opposed by Georgian NGOs. Representatives of the civil sector had welcomed the presidentís veto and stated that the initiative proposed by the president was better than the Beselia-Popkhadze-Sesiashvili draft and did not grant the MIA direct access to surveillance, which is a very important factor.