TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian citizens may be barred from leaving the country because of state interests, and may not even be able to know the real reason for it, even by going to court.
Members of the Georgian Dream coalition, who are the authors of the draft bill, say that there is such a regulation in the constitution and now they want to ‘get legislation compatible with the constitution’.
But lawyers say the new bill is vague and not backed up by any arguments. They hope parliament will turn down such an ‘illegal draft.’
The draft was written by MPs Irina Imerlishvili and Zurab Abashidze and is already registered in the parliament as a legislative initiative.
According to the bill, citizen may be blocked from leaving the country, to get passport, to prolong the validity of the passport, and to cross the border ‘considering the interests of the state or public safety.’
The draft doesn’t specify what state interests or public safety will justify such measures.
According to the bill, ‘competent bodies’ make decisions about denying citizens to leave the country, but not the court. But a citizen who finds out on border that he or she is not able to leave the country, will be able to appeal the decision of the ‘competent body’ in court.
The explanatory note of the bill also says that if necessary, a citizen will not be allowed to know the real reason for the measures, even in the court.
Currently, a citizen is only refused to leave the country if he or she is subject to a search by law enforcement bodies or has forged documents.
MP Irine Imerlishvili, one of the authors of the bill, says that there won’t be any restrictions for the Georgian citizens.
“This will be word in word of what is written in the constitution today and legislation will come in line with the constitution. No new regulation, new restriction will be established for citizens apart from what is written in the constitution, so this spin is not necessary,” she says.
Tatuli Todua, from Georgian Young Lawyers Association, says that it is not right that legislation is being harmonized with the constitution.
“It is an unheard legislative technique to rewrite goals of sections of the constitution to restrict rights,” she says. “This means that MPs don’t know what the constitutional regulation means, why it is so wide and why it must be specific in further legislative acts.”
She says that the part about a Georgian citizen being denied to leave the country if it is necessary for state interests or public security is so vague that it in fact allows for arbitrariness.
Members of the minority National Movement say it is quite possible that the government perfectly used these regulations against their party members.
“This is an attempt to get us back to Soviet times, when people’s movement were controlled, when there was institutes of such recordings,” says Nugzar Tsiklauri from UNM. “Any citizen who is a political threat to the government can be deprived of a whole number of civic rights. This is unimaginable.”
He thinks the government wishes to establish total control over citizens and restrict their legal rights.