The messenger logo

NGOs to Government: ‘Listen to Christmas songs instead of people’

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, December 26
‘It Affects You’ campaign participants, consisting of NGOs and civil society representatives who are against illegal surveillance, sent symbolic gifts and post cards and flash drives with Christmas songs to the MPs who voted for the bill that envisaged providing key access to surveillance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs ( MIA).

The ‘It Affects You’ campaign participants appealed to the appropriate bodies and figures to listen to Christmas songs rather than illegally eavesdrop on people.

The new Head of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) Ana Natsvlishvili said that the key point of the message was to remind lawmakers how incorrect the step was when they supported the MIA.

“We have sent the gifts to tell them to listen to music instead of people. It’s very important for them to take the right messages from people, figure them out and take them into account,” stated Natsvlishvili.

Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia Eka Gigauri said that the gifts have been sent only to those MPs who voted for the bill.

Head of the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) Zviad Devdariani suggested that sending the gifts was just a part of their plan.

“We intend to use different tools to change this unhealthy practice. After New Year, we plan to hold consultations regarding wiretapping with different political parties. We hope that the law will be amended,” stated Devdariani.

Nearly a month ago parliament approved a government-backed bill on surveillance according to which a double-key system was adopted with one 'key' held by the Interior Ministry and the other by the Privacy Protection Inspector.

NGOs, parliamentary opposition parties and Republicans from the Georgian Dream coalition were against the law.

They claimed that leaving access within the MIA, as it was under the previous government, might continue the practice of illegal surveillance widely used by the United National Movement government.