OGP Forum Member Organizations appeal to the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia Konstantine Kublashvili

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Appeal of the OGP Forum Member Organizations to the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia

Konstantine Kublashvili

 

 

Mr. Kublashvili,

Currently Georgia is in the process of elaborating the OGP Action Plan, within the frames of which, number of state institutions take commitments to ensure broader transparency and accountability of their work. Supreme Court of Georgia, among other institutions, is part of this process.

During the process of elaborating the action plan, civil society organizations prepared the recommendation package – the activities that will ensure more transparency and accountability of the state institutions. Among recommendations, organizations included the obligation of the Supreme Court of Georgia to proactively disclose the statistical data about the government surveillance. In case of releasing the statistics, society will be able to obtain information about the number of surveillance permit requests submitted to the Supreme Court from the corresponding public institutions and the number of complied requests. The representative of the Supreme Court, who attended the discussion of the recommendations, has not yet expressed the official position of the court regarding this issue.

While making the decision concerning this matter, please consider that surveillance is under huge public interest. The issue of accessibility of information about surveillance is problematic and it is proved by the recent studies. Thomas Hammarberg, EU Special Adviser on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights in Georgia in his report puts emphases on the importance of immediate resolving of the issues connected to the practice of surveillance.

It must be noted that on Decemeber 17, 2013 more than 100 civil society organizations all over the world (including NGOs from Georgia) released the public appeal towards the co-chairs of “Open Government Partnership”, Steering Committee and the OGP member states. Public appeal was concerning the disproportionate practice of surveillance worldwide and the request of ensuring the transparency. One of the major recommendations of the appeal was improving the civic monitoring mechanisms on the surveillance. In this context, we believe that Supreme Court must provide the publicity of the statistic data.

We believe that publicity of this data depends on the will of the Supreme Court of Georgia which can easily process the data about surveillance and proactively release once in three months. It must be noted that disclosing such statistical information does not publicize the information about operative-investigative activities, thus releasing it does not contain the risk of publicizing the secret information. In addition, disclosure of the data will contribute to improving the civic monitoring mechanism, transparency and introducing the high standards of open governance.

We express readiness for cooperation with you and other agencies with the aim of resolving the issue promptly and efficiently.

Forum member non-governmental organizations:

  • Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
  • Transparency International – Georgia
  • Georgian Young Lawyers Association
  • Open Society Georgia – Foundation
  • Jumpstart Georgia
  • Economic Policy Research Center
  • Partnership for Road Safety
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Public Statement Spread by the CSOs Across the Globe to the OGP

On 17 December, 2013 a Public Statement signed by more than 100 organizations across the world, including Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) from Georgia, was sent to the Co-Chairs of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the  OGP Steering Committee and OGP member States.

The Public Statement refers to the concern on disproportionate surveillance practices across the globe and the request  to promote more transparency. “These practices erode the checks and balances on which accountability depends, and have a deeply chilling effect on freedom of expression, information and association, without which the ideals of open government have no meaning”, is read in the Statement.

By spreading the Public statement, the undersigned civil society organizations affirm their deep commitment to the goals of the Open Government Partnership and express their profound concerns regarding the mass  surveillance tendencies which risks the key goals of the OGP.

As the illegal surveillance tendencies have been of broad interest to the general public in Georgia, IDFI fully recognizes the needs of the proposed recommendations to be taken into consideration in the OGP Georgia action plan.

The specific recommendations are rendered by the undersigned CSOs towards the decision makers:

  • Recognize the need to update understandings of existing privacy and human rights law to reflect modern surveillance technologies and techniques.
  • Commit in their OGP action plans to complete a review of national laws by October 2014, with the aim of defining reforms needed to regulate necessary, legitimate and proportional State involvement in communications surveillance; to guarantee freedom of the press; and to protect whistleblowers who lawfully reveal abuses of state power.
  • Commit in their OGP action plans to transparency on the mechanisms for surveillance, on exports of surveillance technologies, aid directed towards implementation of surveillance technologies, and agreements to share citizen data among states.

The initiators of the statement call on the OGP Steering Committee to review the submitted recommendations in a timely manner and accordingly to be envisaged in the OGP action plans by the OGP member States.