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Georgia parliament’s committee for legal issues rejects presidential veto

President says wiretapping law violates the country’s constitution

The Georgian parliament’s committee for legal issues has rejected president Margvelashvili’s veto of legislation creating a secret surveillance agency, saying it was a “political speculation” and “a senseless move, a veto for the sake of veto”.

The special agency is to be set up as a part of the state security service, which president argues compromises its independence by default. His suggestion is that the agency should be incorporated into the government and be directly accountable to the prime minister.

Non-governmental organizations say they will be appealing against the bill in the constitutional court, if the parliament eventually moves to override the presidential veto.

Eka Gigauri, head of International Transparency – Georgia, said members of an anti-wiretapping campaign called ‘This concerns you” were prepared to take the case beyond the constitutional court to the European Court for Human Rights. They are certain they will win, she said.

It will take 76 votes to override the veto. The voting is to take place on March 27.

 

The secret intelligence bill cleared its third – and final – reading on March 1, by a vote of 87 to 2.

It seeks to create within the country’s state security service a special agency authorized to conduct secret surveillance activities via Internet and phones.

In April last year, the constitutional court upheld a suit by NGOs from “This concerns you” anti-wiretapping campaign, judging that the law as it was created a risk of arbitrary infringements of the right to privacy. It ordered that the parliament revise the law by March 31, 2017 to bring it in line with the country’s constitution.

 


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