The Democracy Research Institute (DRI) reviewed the draft Counter-Terrorism Strategy of the State Security Service for 2022-2026 and sent its assessments, opinions and recommendations to the State Security Service and the Government of Georgia before the approval of the document. It should be noted that the draft strategy does not adequately address the important aspects of the threats and challenges facing the State.
The main goal of the strategy is to protect the State and public from the threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism. It is true that the strategy document is a set of goals in a multi-year perspective that requires less specificity, however, the document is so general that it does not reflect the State's vision for the fight against terrorism or violent extremism. The draft strategy ignores and does not address the major causes of radicalization in Georgia; In particular, it does not assess the risks of radicalization that accompany the marginalization of specific minorities, weak governance, systematic human rights abuses or violations of the rule of law.
Against this background, the Counter-Terrorism Strategy refuses to assess the role of the State in the process of radicalization. Instead, it offers an analysis of existing terrorist organizations and international context, much of which is taken from the State Security's 2019-2020 reports.
The desire of the State Security Service to establish a different standard of admissibility of evidence in court in relation to terrorism is concerning. Lowering the standard for obtaining and adducing evidence in the investigation of these types of crimes will clearly marginalize certain groups of individuals, violate their rights and promote the spread of radical ideologies.
The draft strategy states that the relevant agencies will actively continue to collect and analyze specific information, however, it is unclear what methods will be used and how individuals will be identified. The draft strategy also declares that it is not the objective of the State to totally control individuals or groups of individuals, although a declaration alone cannot guarantee the prevention of human rights violations. This record is of particular importance in the context of a number of cases of illegal surveillance of various groups by the State Security Service without proper legal basis.
As we are aware, unfortunately, the action plan prepared (or under preparation) based on the draft strategy will again be a confidential document, which is inconsistent with the Law on State Secrets.