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NGOs hold rally against surveillance law

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Monday, December 22
The "It Affects You" campaign participants, consisting of NGOs and civil society representatives, held a rally on December 19.

The protest against the bill was adopted by parliament with regard to wiretapping earlier this month. The bill envisages granting the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MIA) and the Personal Data Protection Inspector exclusive access to surveillance.

Head of the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) Zviad Devdariani said that the unhealthy practice, which now is a law, must be stopped.

“We have some tools for changing the law on surveillance. One of those tools is this rally. With the protest action, we are trying to direct people’s attention to the issue,” stated Devdariani.

Head of Transparency International Georgia Eka Gigauri said that with this law, parliament made illegal surveillance legal.

“The government sees a potential criminal in every person, that’s why they want to eavesdrop on everyone,” stated Gigauri.

NGOs are working on a different version of the law about illegal surveillance, but until then, they plan to sue the already adopted law in Constitutional Court. They demand on taking access away from the MIA.

Head of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) Kakha Kozhoridze said that the system is the same as it was before.

“The people who worked in this field before are the same, also they have equipment and still think that people are naive enough to believe that they stopped the illegal surveillance,” stated Kozhoridze.

Editor-in-chief of the Rezonansi newspaper Lasha Tughushi said that they will not stop until they receive the desired result.

Chair of Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Civil Integration Eka Beselia, stays on her position. According to her, soon the MIA will start their reorganization, that’s why changing the law now will not be the correct step.

Deputy Chairman of Human Rights Protection Committee Gedevan Popkhadze does not deny the possibility of changing his mind regarding the surveillance law.

“At the moment, I don’t see any better variant, but in the future, if we have a better plan, I may vote for the new one,” stated Pophadze.

The NGO’s position is shared by the parliament opposition.

Member of Free Democrats Shalva Shavgulidze said that law enforcers should not have access to surveillance.

“This is wrong, there is not even a single democratic country with such a practice,” stated Shavgulidze.