DRI: Changes relating to covert investigative activities threaten Georgia's European integration prospects
The Democracy Research Institute is once again responding to the draft amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, initiated by members of the ruling political team, which unjustifiably increases the terms of conducting covert investigative activities. The Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia will discuss the draft law in the third reading today, on June 2. It is unfortunate that the Parliament of Georgia did not take into account the criticism expressed by the civil society and is disproportionately and unjustifiably extending the maximum term for conducting covert investigative activities, as well as the list of crimes to which the extended terms will apply.
According to the amendments, the circle of crimes covered by covert investigative activities will be expanded (27 crimes will be added). In addition, according to the same amendments, covert investigative activities on some crimes provided for in the Code may last indefinitely, "as many times as there is an appropriate legal basis for conducting a covert investigative activity." According to the draft amendments, the subject of covert surveillance may not be notified of the covert investigative activity, which will significantly deteriorate the human rights standard.
It is disturbing that the Government of Georgia, on the eve of the start of a new phase of integration with the European Union, is making a decision that gives a broad and uncontrolled mandate to the law enforcement agencies to restrict the right to privacy. This is especially worrying due to the fact that the EU candidate status self-assessment questionnaire included the very issue of protection of human rights during covert investigative activities.
The political process of receiving the EU candidate country status should be a much higher priority for the Georgian authorities than legislative changes that strengthen repressive control mechanisms.
Accordingly, the Democracy Research Institute calls on the Parliament of Georgia, in the light of the most important foreign policy process, not to contribute to the emergence of additional arguments to question the functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia and not to create a legal basis for establishing total control over society.