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President signs controversial bill over MIA division

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, July 17
President Giorgi Margvealshvili signed a controversial bill over the separation of the security service from the Interior Ministry on July 16.

The President highlighted that the bill was an “initial step” but something insufficient for the system reform in the ministry.

“Reforms must continue in a timely and reasonable manner,” the President’s advisor in Legal Issues Kakha Kozhoridze said.

NGOs were against the bill and it was thought that the President might have used his veto right on the draft.

However, the President stressed that the launching and successful continuation of the reform was of “vital importance” for the state interests and the MIA's impartiality.

In their joint statement a several days ago, NGOs stated that they had always demanded the separation but now the reform was superficial providing no real, systemic changes in the law-enforcement body.

They mentioned 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.

The draft initiated by the government has already gone through numerous amendments and thorough discussions at Parliament’s committee for legal affairs.

A separate agency State Security Service will be formed, which after the President's approval, will start its work from August 1, 2015.

The 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 can serve only one six-year term in office.

The State Security Service will be accountable to Parliament and Government.