Georgia abolishes State Inspector Service
The service of the State Inspector has been abolished in Georgia. Parliament approved the bill on the abolition of the agency in the third reading. The bill was supported by 81 deputies, 7 deputies voted against it.
Former state inspector Londa Toloraia hopes the president will veto the most “non-European law”.
The Office of the State Inspector is an independent state body whose main function is to impartially and effectively investigate a crime committed by a law enforcement official or civil servant or a person equal to them.
The work of this service is regulated by the Law of Georgia on the State Inspector and the law states that the purpose of this service is to “control the legality of personal data processing; control activities carried out at the Central Bank for covert investigative activities and electronic communications identification data”.
The Office of the State Inspector was launched in 2019, and in less than two years the ruling party decided to abolish it.
The parliamentary majority of the Georgian Dream says that this is a reform of the Service and a special investigative and personal data protection service is planned to be established on its basis. According to the head of the service, Londa Toloraia, this is not reform and it is a punishment of the service for its independence. Toloraia also noted that her dismissal violates the Labor Code because it coincided with her maternity leave.
The bill was considered by the Parliament in an expedited manner. It will be replaced by two agencies – the Special Investigation Service, which investigates official crimes, and the Personal Data Protection Service, which will oversee the processing of personal data, all covert investigative activities and activities carried out at the Central Bank.
After the creation of the new agency, the current employees of the Inspector’s Office will be fired and will not be employed in the new agencies.
Mikheil Saakashvili also expressed solidarity and support to the State Inspector. According to him, the Georgian Dream is afraid of the inspector’s conclusion about his case.
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“Today you have decided to fire the state inspector and three of her deputies, who, despite all obstacles, seem to have managed to set up an independent agency, otherwise this law would not have been passed today”, Londa Toloraia said.
According to her, the ruling team uprooted an independent agency that did not agree with anyone on the decision. Toloraia addressed the members of parliament who pressed the button in support of the law today:
“Countries do not set up oversight bodies to unconditionally agree with government decisions, oversight bodies are set up in developed countries to have a say when government agencies violate human rights”.
According to Toloraia, the decision is a dangerous message for all agencies, for the effective work of independent institutions.
It is also noteworthy that NGOs have from the very beginning expressed extreme concern over the bill, calling it a planned attack on another independent body by the ruling party.
US Ambassador Kelly Degnan met with the ruling party before discussing the bill. According to her, she called on Anri Okhanashvili and Mikheil Sarjveladze to postpone the discussion of the bill.
The UN Human Rights Office also responded to the initiative to abolish the Office of the State Inspector and called on the Parliament to withdraw the initiative to abolish the State Inspector. According to the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, the accelerated discussion of the law on the abolition of the state inspector should be stopped.