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MIA responds NGOs criticism over police reform

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, July 16
The Third Sector and parliamentary opposition rated the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) passed on July 9, 2015 negatively.

The draft, which has gone through numerous amendments and thorough discussions at Parliament’s committee for legal affairs, will split the MIA in two. A separate agency State Security Service will be formed, which in case of approval from the President, will start its work from August 1, 2015.

Counter-terrorism center, counter-intelligence, anti-corruption agency, operative-technical department and special operations department will be separated from the Interior Ministry and move to the planned State Security Service.

The Head of the Agency will be selected by the Prime Minister and after approval by the government members he/she can serve only one six-year term in office.

State security Service will be accountable to Parliament and Government.

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) made the list of notes concerning the issue. They reminded the government pre-election promise and demanded real reform of the legal system.

NGOs speak about the duplicity of functions of the divided institutions, the excessive power of the new Agency and about the possible threats of its use for political purposes. They say that one of the main problems remains secret taping.

According to Eka Gigauri, Head of NGO International Transparency-Georgia, Interior Ministry and State Security Agency will interfere with each other in carrying out their activities.

“This reform is a bad version of a good idea, announced by them,” she stated.

Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) says that new institution will not work.

The Head of GYLA Ani Natsvlishvili says that the issue about the control of State Security Service is very vague and superficial.

The United National Movement (UNM) called upon the President to use the power of veto.

“This is the informal governance one person in the country; this split will bring nothing except more problems and bureaucracy,” stated the member of the UNM Giga Bokeria.

The MIA responded to the expressed notes in its statement released on July 14 saying that the spread notes lack objectivity and reasoning.

The statement reads that the reform aims to freed the divided Agencies from political control and transform them into more transparent institutions.

“State Security Service is not the part of Government; the Head of the Service is not the political official and protect from government influence is ensured by introducing democratic norms,” says the statement.

The Majority MP Tamar Kordzaia states that the deficiencies are eliminated as much as possible and advises the NGOs to read the law thoroughly.

“We do not share these notes because the vagueness is maximally eliminated; everything cannot be considered by this law because as we said that it is the first step towards the reforms,” she stressed.

The Chair of Parliament's Human Rights Committee Eka Beselia believes that there is no power excess in a new Agency and the guarantee of this “are the safety norms included in the law.”

The planned State Security Service with about 4, 000 employees, will require funding of GEL 36.7 million in a period between August and December 2015.

The amount of funding GEL 638.7 million will be allocated from the Interior Ministry’s 2015 budget.

However, before the new structure is formed, the final decision is up to the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili.