EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell has raised concerns about recent amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia which increases the scope of crimes allowing for covert investigative actions and the duration of these actions.
In the statement, dated June 8, Ambassador Hartzell said while there may be legitimate security grounds, the changes “significantly reduce Georgian citizens’ right to privacy.”
“We take note of the fact that Georgia continues to introduce important legislative amendments through rushed Parliamentary processes, without the necessary domestic or international consultations and without properly analyzing their compliance with European standards,” he emphasized.
The EU diplomat called on the Georgian Parliament to “immediately ask the Venice Commission for an opinion on this piece of legislation and to follow its recommendations.”
“We urge the Georgian Government to uphold its commitments to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of Georgian citizens,” the Ambassador went on, “as well as to ensure adequate and effective safeguards against their potential abuse.”
The Ambassador also stressed that the Georgian Government needs to “inform the Diplomatic Community of the results of the promised investigation into the reported massive wiretapping of Georgian and foreign citizens, as revealed in September 2021.”
The EU diplomat referred to the alleged leaked files from the State Security Services (SSG), suggesting that the authorities were spying on the clergy, civil society, journalists, and foreign diplomats, among others.
The controversial amendments, proposed in April 2022 by ruling Georgian Dream MPs, extend the maximum possible surveillance period from six to nine months and make it possible to carry out covert investigative activities in connection with an additional 27 offenses.
In reference to 77 offenses, changes also make it possible to surveil an individual indefinitely without them being aware of the surveillance.
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