Tbilisi, DFWatch–NGOs in Georgia have revived their campaign This Affects You Too, and are launching a lawsuit against the Ministry of Internal Affairs for having direct access to communication operators’ networks and, thus, having ability to eavesdrop on citizens unchecked.
The activist group submitted a lawsuit to the Constitutional Court to abolish amendments to secret surveillance legislation adopted in November, 2014.
They claim the amendments contradict three articles of the Constitution: Article 20 – guaranteeing inviolability of citizen’s private life, place of personal activity, personal records, correspondence, communication by telephone, or other technical means as well as messages received through technical means; Article 16 – right of free development of personality, and Article 41 – guarantees that information in official documents about one’s health, finances or private matters shall not be accessible to anyone without the consent of the one, except cases determined by the law, when it is necessary for ensuring the state security or public safety.
This Affects You Too on Wednesday presented their point to public.
However, the procedures of the Constitutional Court are usually time-consuming, sometimes requiring over a year the case to be brought to the conclusion. Hence, the group expects the first results of its efforts to be materialized at the end of year at its best, or in the first half of 2016, as Giorgi Burjanadze of Open Society Georgia Foundation put it during a group’s presentation on Wednesday.
Lika Sajaia of Transparency International Georgia, a co-author of the draft legislation which has been intended to check the law enforcers’ capability to eavesdrop on the citizens and has been waved aside by the authorities, explained that current legislation allows the Intelligence Services of the MIA to get the following information on each person: whom they are talking to (by telephone and online), when they are talking and where. They also can legally keep this information without permission of the court. However, they need the court’s permission to use this information.
“Imagine they keep such information in the drawer and need the court’s permission to get it out of [the drawer]. It only depends on their conscience, whether they will address the court or no,” Lika Sajaia said.