Public Defender Addresses UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy and Parliament of Georgia

As the public is aware, on September 13, 2021, data relating to the private lives of a lot of people were posted on the Internet. Given the unprecedented volume of the materials, it is clear that they were allegedly obtained as a result of illegal covert surveillance conducted by the state agencies.

On October 11, 2021, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, Joseph Cannataci, with a letter. The Public Defender informed the Special Rapporteur about the alleged illegal, large-scale wiretapping and the massive and gross interference with the right to privacy in Georgia and asked him to study and assess the situation of the protection of the right to privacy in Georgia, as well as to visit Georgia for the same purpose.

It is noteworthy that so far the Parliament of Georgia has not used the parliamentary oversight mechanisms at its disposal. With this in mind, on October 11 of this year, the Public Defender of Georgia also addressed the Parliament of Georgia and urged it to summon the Head of the State Security Service of Georgia to the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia relating to the alleged illegal and systemic wiretapping and massive interference with private life.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the investigation, the Public Defender also addressed the Prosecutor General of Georgia and requested, as an exception, access to the materials of a criminal case that was launched after the publication of the materials.

In addition, it should be noted that the Public Defender has been pointing to insufficient legal guarantees for the protection of the right to privacy for years and considers that certain legislative norms regulating covert investigative measures contradict the Constitution of Georgia. That is why in 2017, the Public Defender, together with many citizens of Georgia, filed a constitutional lawsuit with the Constitutional Court of Georgia. The consideration of the Public Defender’s constitutional claim on its merit ended in 2018, however, unfortunately, no final decision has yet been made.

The Public Defender hopes that as a result of successful cooperation with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, the Government and other stakeholders will take more effective measures that will have a positive impact on the quality of privacy in the country, while the Parliament of Georgia will use all the necessary parliamentary control mechanisms granted to it by the Constitution, in order to prevent the risks of violation of privacy and to respond to the existing violations.

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