In recent days, Campaign This Affects You has become more active for the society. A new slogan has appeared on the famous label of the campaign– “We Still Listened – We Are Still Watched Out”. This is related to illegal distribution of secret records of private life that again made the society anxious.
On March 25, participant NGO’s of the Campaign held demonstration in front of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office. In the demonstration, traditionally, members of Human Rights Center also took part.
With this demonstration we reminded the government, mainly the key investigation body – the Prosecutor’s Office that they have huge responsibility and obligation to promptly investigate the facts of illegal distribution of secret records of private life by which politicians and other public officials were blackmailed.
Unfortunately, we see that the Prosecutor’s Office is very weak and we do not have any tangible results. We did not expect anything different because the prosecutor’s office is still under the influence of the government and its independence is still might-have-been dream.
This situation once again demonstrated the necessity of creating independent investigative mechanism in our country. There are direct recommendations of authoritative international experts and institutions regarding this issue. Public Defender’s Office and local NGOs have been requesting creation of the independent investigative mechanism for a long time but in vain; it shall investigate crimes allegedly committed by law enforcement officers..
Nowadays, MIA and Security Service of Georgia are responsible for secret surveillance of politicians and other public officials. While there is no control of these investigative activities and the law enforcement bodies own the tools for secret surveillance, there is still a threat that high-ranking officials will abuse their authority – on the one hand, they will conduct illegal secret surveillance on people and on the other hand, they will keep those records and use them to blackmail different officials. Before the reforms in the MIA and before splitting it into two parts, only MIA was in charge of those investigative operations. Nowadays, the Security Service also has this function, which aggravates the problem.
The government has not elaborated effective mechanisms of secret surveillance. This is the reason why campaign “This Affects You – We Are Still Listened” started and it will continue until the law enforcement authorities will not conduct the secret surveillance in accordance to the best European standards and practices.
Illegal distribution of secret footage was followed by the initiative of the Human Right Committee of the Parliament to make the law more drastic. The initiative was raised on time, but it might have only little effect. If there are no systemic changes, only strict laws will not bring tangible results.
Besides, it is necessary to create a committee, which will control the process of destroy of the useless secret records by MIA and security forces. Without the committee secret surveillance will remain as uncontrolled as it was during previous government’s period, which “has managed” to leave such a heavy inheritance to us in the form of thousands of video or audio files buried in the ground, in which there are evidences of torture of prisoners and records of personal life of public officials. Once, when this government will be changed, maybe we will discover similar “treasure” again. It means, we are going round and round – nothing is changing and the society is still unprotected.
The Prime-minister condemned the fact of publishing secret records of private life and vowed that he would use all his power to expose the criminals. This statement has reminded me the tale “The thief of cock” by Iakob Gogebashvili. In order to believe in the statement of the prime-minister, the tails of stolen cocks should not be visible under the robes of the main suspects – MIA and the Security Service. Those tails are also fishily visible from the laps of some MPs from the “Georgian Dream”. The society expects next wave of distribution of illegally obtained secret records.
Photos: March 25, 2016, demonstration in front of Chief Prosecutor’s Office