DRI: 2021 Activity Report of the State Security Service fails to inform Parliament of the actual activities of the Service
On April 15, 2022, the State Security Service of Georgia presented its Activity Report 2021 in the Parliament of Georgia. Despite the country's domestic and foreign security challenges, the committee hearing was scheduled for June 17, two months later.
The extremely general report fails to inform Members of Parliament of the actual activities of the State Security Service and does not provide enough information for the implementation of democratic parliamentary control over the Service.
Instead of focusing as thoroughly as possible on specific threats, lessons learned from the past experience, or the response of the State Security Service to threats, the report uses extremely general phrases such as: "Appropriate measures were taken", "Numerous meetings were held", "Complex measures were taken", "Interagency coordination was carried out", etc.
The report creates an impression that the State Security Service considers opposition political groups, protesters and likely the opposition TV stations to be the main threat to the national security of the country.
The report just briefly mentions the reputational damage done to the State Security Service in September 2021 after the leakage of files compiled as a result of illegal surveillance. Instead of critically analyzing the systemic problems that led the state repressive agency to act illegally against a large group of citizens (and representatives of diplomatic missions) and informing the Parliament of the measures/programmes planned to detect/prevent this type of large-scale crime within the system, the State Security Service shifts responsibility to external factors that "deliberately removed the issue from the legal space."
However, it does not say what the State Security Service did to bring the issue back into the legal space - in particular, whether the General Inspectorate of the State Security Service conducted at least an internal inquiry or whether anyone has been disciplined before the end of the criminal investigation ongoing in the Prosecutor's Office.
The analysis of the report reaffirms the view that the agency's resources are spent irrationally and that it is not the interest of the Service to identify or combat real threats, but to follow and wiretap political groups and public organizations.
The report also contains many factual inaccuracies. Although the State Security Service says that the Service was actively involved in the work of several inter-agency commissions during the reporting period, it turns out that some of these commissions did not hold any sessions in 2021 at all. The information provided by the State Security Service on the number of questions sent by MPs and the number of sessions of the confidence group do not match the information provided by the Parliament of Georgia. In particular, according to the 2021 Activity Report of the State Security Service, in 2021, the Service responded to 32 questions of MPs, while according to the reply letter received from the Parliament of Georgia, only 11 questions were sent in writing to the State Security Service of Georgia in 2021.
2021 Activity Report of the State Security Service, p. 22., available at: https://info.parliament.ge/file/1/BillPackageContent/34501