TBILISI, DFWatch — The Supreme Court of Georgia is establishing a special group which will oversee the issuing of warrants for secret surveillance.
Kote Kublashvili, Chair of the Supreme Court, said Friday that Zaza Meishvili, Chair of the Criminal Law Chamber, will chair the group, and judges on all levels will be involved, including those who have experience with issuing such permissions.
Kublashvili, a member of President Saakashvili’s political party, was responding to the recent publication by the investigative service of the Finance Ministry of secretly recorded phone conversations between a detained former energy minister and the head of Rustavi-2 TV, in relation to an investigation of suspected corruption.
After the recordings had been published, it emerged that the court had not issued a warrant to wiretap two of the four persons who appeared in the recordings: Nika Gvaramia and former Interior Minister Vano Meravishvili.
The head of the Supreme Court says the new working group will have as a goal to avoid such misunderstandings. He explains that the law about investigative procedures regulates this issue and it says that it is prohibited to conduct surveillance which violates privacy, human dignity and the honor of a person and that basic rights and liberties should be protected.
“It will be good to amend this law and it will be improved in this direction.”
Saakashvili’s government was frequently criticized for illegal surveillance and people became accustomed to seeing secret phone conversations or video footage published. This has left a fear in people for having their phone calls listened in on, even when they are not speaking, or even when they have their cell phone switched off.
The result of the parliamentary election, which led to a change of government, made many people expect that secret surveillance would come to an end, but the recent investigation and the publishing of secretly recorded phone conversations has left a suspicion among people that the government has not ended the use of illegal surveillance against persons of interest.