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Ombudsman, Watchdog Lawsuit Over CCTV Polling Station Footage

The Georgian Public Defender’s Office (PDO) said on May 19 it had lodged a lawsuit at the Constitutional Court against, what it calls, restricting access to the footage recorded by CCTV cameras at the polling stations.

A similar lawsuit was filed at the Constitutional Court by local watchdog group, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association last week.

Both lawsuits claim that amendment to the election code, passed by the Parliament on March 21, restricts citizens’ right to access to information. According to the amendment, although election observers and other election stake-holders present at a polling station will have the right to access CCTV polling station footage, they will, however, have to indicate a concrete time for an alleged violation and will only be given access to that particular, 15-minute, portion of footage, according to the amendments. Also the amendment says that CCTV polling station footage is no longer public information.

The both lawsuits claim that the amendment is in contradiction to the Georgian constitution’s 41st article, which provides free access to information “stored in state institutions as well as official documents existing there unless they contain state, professional or commercial secret.”

The both lawsuits demand suspension of the controversial amendment to the election code. GYLA’s lawsuit specifies that the provision should be suspended immediately in order not to make it applicable for the May 21 parliamentary elections.


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