TBILISI, DFWatch–A campaign in Georgia which played an important role ahead of Saakashvili’s unexpected election defeat in 2012 has been revived.
The campaign This Affects You Too is being brought back to life in order to fight against illegal surveillance by the government.
This Affects You Too was created in February 2012 by media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to amend election legislation and create a competitive election environment.
The campaign played an important role in breaking the monopoly of pro-Saakashvili media ahead of the election in October 2012.
Its new slogan is: ‘This affects you too – they are still listening to us’.
Members of the campaign say their goal this time is to protect privacy and fight against illegal surveillance of phone conversations.
The NGOs that make up the campaign Thursday presented their new effort. Member organizations are Open Society Georgia Foundation, International Transparency Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, 42th Article of the Constitution, Georgia’s National Platform and others.
During the presentation, they said that after the change of government in late 2012, the new government didn’t carry out a system change in this area and that law enforcement bodies still have unrestricted access to data from communication operators and any other type of communication between people.
“If they want, they can wiretap 21 000 people and there is no regulation or monitoring mechanisms for this. The legislation is not improved,” Eka Gigauri of Transparency International Georgia said.
Lasha Tughushi, head of the National Platform of Georgia, says that it affects every citizen in Georgia. That is why it is important to fight this problem.
“I don’t want to live in a country which strives to be democratic and at the same time certain people are spying on other people in this country,” he said, adding that it is necessary to conduct legal and political reforms.
The campaign will consist of rallies, discussions and conferences.
Members say the only way to solve this problem is to amend legislation. This will guarantee privacy and safeguard people’s private lives.
This Affects You Too want the following guarantees by amending the legislation: to create an effective system to provide high standards of investigation and exclude the information of private lives of citizens illegally; surveillance and wiretapping will only be allowed for specific cases (severe and particularly severe crimes); limits will be established for allowing secret surveillance, also for keeping and deleting recordings; to set up surveillance mechanisms for secret surveillance and wiretapping.
Opposition of previous government criticized it for secret surveillance of people, mostly political opponents and using such recordings for political ends.
When there was a change of government in 2012, law enforcers discovered files with material obtained through illegal surveillance carried out by the Saakashvili government. Part of it was destroyed, but some of it was kept for investigative purposes.
Minister of Interior Alexandre Chikaidze on Wednesday responded that there is no illegal suirveillance of Georgian citizens and guaranteed that the Interior Ministry protects the rights of people, their lives and health.
He continued saying that there are consultations about how to better regulate secret surveillance.
“We will agree on legislative amendments which will be acceptable for us and for citizens of Georgia,” he added.