DRI: Illegal wiretapping and surveillance pose a serious threat to the development of the country
The Democracy Research Institute responds to the TV stories aired by TV Pirveli on September 12, according to which, the State Security Service exercises total control over public servants (including school and kindergarten teachers, local self-government servants), Georgian Dream members,
local self-government election candidates, staff of the administration of the Patriarchate of Georgia and the clergymen of all ranks.
Illegal audio and video surveillance of various social groups by the State Security Service, without proper legal basis, is not a new practice.
These methods have become a tool of control and political revenge for the ruling political force.
Wiretapping and surveillance of public officials and clergy without proper legal basis, as well as obtaining footage of their private lives, is a deviation from the constitutional order of state institutions and poses a serious threat to the development of the country.
According to the Constitution and legislation of Georgia, the right to privacy may be restricted only for a legal purpose, with or without a court ruling, in case of urgent necessity provided by law.
However, the violation of the inviolability of a person’s intimate life cannot be justified in the absence of any of the circumstances. Even in case of legitimate interference with privacy, such as surveillance for specific lawful purposes, surveillance should be stopped immediately if there is a risk of invading the key area of a person's private life and the recordings must be deleted/destroyed.
Wiretapping and surveillance by the State Security Service without a legal basis, including the violation of the inviolability of intimate life, is the most gross violation of human privacy, which is accompanied by disregard for other constitutionally guaranteed rights - equality, movement, speech and expression, right to vote.
It should be noted that by ignoring the decision of the Constitutional Court of Georgia,
according to legislation of Georgia, the Operative-Technical Agency, which is subordinated to the the State Security Service,
is authorized to wiretap, which poses a serious risk to human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in the absence of proper mechanisms for controlling/overseeing the relevant services.
The Democracy Research Institute calls on:
The Parliament of Georgia:
- To establish a fact-finding commission to examine, with a high degree of publicity and transparency, the cases of illegal covert surveillance by the State Security Service/other law enforcement agencies.
- To immediately start discussing the creation of a legal framework to ensure effective civilian monitoring and high-quality accountability of the State Security Service and the Operational-Technical Agency to minimize the risks of illegal surveillance by the authorities.
To the ruling party and the law enforcement agencies under its control:
- Return to the constitutional framework and refuse to use wiretapping as a tool of political and personal retribution.
TV Pirveli (Facebook page), https://fb.watch/7__I4A7DZL/, 12.09.2021
TV Pirveli (Facebook page), https://www.facebook.com/basil.kobakhidze/videos/1019633025516175, 12.09.2021
MTAVARI.TV (website), https://mtavari.tv/news/52341-skandaluri-chanacerebi-mtavar-aktsentebshi-rogor, 01.08.2021
Constitution of Georgia, Article 15, paragraph 2.
K. Eremadze, 2020, Basic Rights for Freedom, available at http://ewmi-prolog.org/images/files/3811DziritadiUf_Eremadze-N.pdf
Decision of the First Panel of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, o. 1/1/625,640, April 14, 2016, https://matsne.gov.ge/ka/document/view/3263731?publication=0
Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, Article 2, part 32, Subparagraph a.