The ruling party spearheaded the effort at the Parliament of Georgia to override President Salome Zurabishvili’s veto of the controversial surveillance law initially adopted by the Georgian Dream Parliament on June 7. 79 MPs voted to override, 27 voted against.
Speaking at the session, President’s Parliamentary Secretary, Giorgi Mskhiladze said the vote was “undermining Georgia’s democratic future” and decried the vote taking place at the moment when the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting is taking place in Brussels, attended by PM Irakli Garibashvili.
Head of the Legal Committee, Anri Okhanashvili (Georgian Dream) retorted that the President failed to provide “motivated reasons” for her veto and thus “failed to fulfill the legal and Constitutional demands even at this elementary level.”
The amendments extended the maximum surveillance period from six to nine months and made it possible to carry out covert investigative activities in connection with an additional 27 offenses. In reference to 77 offenses, the obligation to notify an individual subject of spying may be delayed for years.
At the time of her veto, President Zurabishvili stated “There can be no law passed these days that further restrict human rights, when on the contrary we are asked to give more guarantees in this direction, to be more democratic, more European.”
The Venice Commission, an advisory body to the Council of Europe, published an Urgent Opinion on the bill following the President’s veto which criticized the law’s adoption in a “hasty procedure” and urged authorities to re-examine the legislation.
Carl Hartzell, the now former Ambassador of the EU to Georgia, also raised concerns regarding the legislation on 9 June when he stated that the bill “significantly reduces Georgian citizens’ right to privacy.”