The messenger logo

President signs vetoed surveillance bill

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, March 29
The President of Georgia signed the wiretapping bill which he had vetoed several days ago and stated that through the decision, he respected the terms set by the Constitutional Court of Georgia for the law.

The Presidentís Parliamentary Secretary Anna Dolidze said at the same time, President Giorgi Margvelashvili expressed readiness to fight for the creation of a new system and render assistance to various interested groups.

"This, despite the fact that Parliament did not consider the President's motivated remarks over the law the president made a solution to sign it,Ē Dolidze added.

After the President signed the bill, Georgiaís leading NGOs stressed the new law enabled law enforcers to carry out illegal surveillance and said they would appeal the law to the Constitutional Court again and at the European Court of Human Rights.

If the President refused to sign the bill, it would be signed by the Parliament Speaker instead, and would come into effect regardless of the President's opposition.

After the Georgian Dream Government defeated the nine-year rule of the United National Movement in 2012, thousands of video and audio files were seized, which had all been taped illegally under the United National Movement leadership to blackmail people.

Most of the footage was publicly destroyed, but many files were kept, allegedly in order to help future investigations.

However, under the current Georgian Dream authorities, some personal videos also appeared on the Internet.

Parliament passed amendments in 2014 that gave surveillance powers to the Interior Ministry and the Personal Data Protection Inspector, with the opposition and NGOs opposing the move due to the risk of illegal surveillance being carried out once again.

The President also vetoed the amendments, but the veto was overridden by Parliament.

The Constitutional Court ruled on April 14 2016 that the legislation allowing the police to have direct, unrestricted access to telecom operatorsí networks to monitor communications, was unconstitutional.

The court set March 31 2017 as the deadline for implementing the courtís decision and replacing the existing surveillance regulations.

The new law envisages the creation of a legal entity of Public Law (LEPL) under the supervision of the State Security Service which would have the right to carry out surveillance.