Campaign Group Files Lawsuit against Surveillance Bill in Constitutional Court

The This Affects You campaign, a group of civil society organizations campaigning against illegal surveillance, filed a lawsuit against the newly-adopted Surveillance Bill in the Constitutional Court of Georgia on April 11.

Following the Bill’s Parliamentary approval, the campaign group launched a special application allowing individuals to complete an electronic lawsuit against the surveillance bill.

“The new Surveillance Bill does not guarantee the right to privacy and the Constitution is still violated. It also increases the risks of personal data disclosure,” the letter’s introduction reads.

About 300 citizens filed applications, which were submitted to the Constitutional Court today.

“We hope that the court will respond quickly and it will share our positions entirely, because it is a good opportunity for them to defend the Constitutional Court’s reputation,” Giorgi Burjanadze of the Transparency International Georgia stated at a press conference on April 11.

The President also announced in his annual state of the nation address last week that he will support the individual Constitutional Court applications against the Surveillance Bill in the capacity of Amicus Curiae, which, in Margvelashvili’s words, will enable him “to help the Constitutional Court in making a better decision.”

According to Georgian legislation, a friend of the court (Amicus Curiae) is an interested person who is not a party to a case under review and who may submit to the court his/her own written opinion with regard to the case.

On April 6, four political parties the Free Democrats, the Republicans, the United National Movement and the Movement for Liberty-European Georgia also filed individual lawsuits in the Constitutional Court against the same bill.

The parties challenge the provision, which establishes the Operative-Technical Agency under the State Security Service.

The Georgian Public Defender is also planning to submit a separate lawsuit against the same bill, which will be filed in the Court in the coming days.

On April 14, 2016 the Constitutional Court ruled that the legislation allowing security agency to have direct, unrestricted access to telecom operators’ networks to monitor communications was unconstitutional. The court also ordered to end this long-standing practice and to replace the existing surveillance regulations with the new one before March 31, 2017.

An ad hoc parliamentary working group was established in January, 2017 to bring the country’s surveillance regulations in line with the Constitutional Court’s decision.

The Parliament adopted the new bill on March 1, 2017. Later the President vetoed the bill, but the legislative body overrode the presidential objections and the law entered into force on March 30.