Georgia president vetoes divisive surveillance bill – The Organization for World Peace

For the first time since taking office, Georgian PResident Salome Zurabishvili used her veto against the controversial surveillance bill proposed by parliament. The 22ndn/a June, the president said in a statement that the adoption of these laws would allow restrictions on human rights and constitute an obstacle to the process of democratization necessary to become an EU member state.

According to Transparency International, one of the ramifications of implementing the amendment would be the ability to conduct covert investigative actions in relation to 27 additional crimes (more than 75 in total), including crimes such as illegal hoisting of the national flag. Also, the duration of covert eavesdropping was previously increased from 6 to 9 months, however, now these measures can be indefinite as long as the issue relates to one of the 100 enlisted crimes.

In an open letter to lawmakers, non-governmental organizations including the Center for Human Rights and the Georgian Democracy Initiative claimed that the bill raises the standard of human rights protections. Among the flawed nature of the amendments and the non-compliance with human rights conventions, they highlight the potential problem of an escalation of mass surveillance, which increases the risk of unlawful interference and arbitrariness. authorities.

“It is not possible to pass such a law in Georgia, which further restricts human rights, when we are asked to give more guarantees in this sense, to be more democratic and more European” , said the president, expressing her concerns about the potential violation of the right to private communication. The bill was also criticized by EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell, who said: “We are concerned that the current changes will significantly limit the privacy of Georgian citizens without sufficient safeguards against undue invasion of privacy. privacy and the protection of personal data”.

The activation of the veto procedure must be treated in an emblematic way and rather as a political act than as a factual mechanism likely to block the bill. Under Georgian law, a simple majority (76 votes out of 150) is required for the veto to be overridden by parliament, where currently 84 seats belong to the ruling Georgian Dream party that proposed the amendments. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Archil Talakavadze has already announced the party’s willingness to support the original bill again once it comes back to parliament for a vote.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, three countries, Ukraine (28e February), Moldova and Georgia (3rd March) has applied for EU candidate status. During June 23rd-24e summit, the EU adopted a resolution granting this post “without delay” only to Ukraine and Moldova. However, following the recommendation of the European Commission, Georgia, although once considered a favorite, can only become a candidate after having met a list of specific priorities.

The European Commission will have reviewed the request by the end of 2022, verifying whether Georgia will adequately address the issues of concern. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has already declared his commitment to “meeting all requirements” set by the EU

Georgia is currently facing one of the greatest political challenges of decades, and in light of its democratic backsliding, the 2008 war, and recent events like the passage of surveillance bills , membership of the European Union remains a political priority.

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