US ambassador calls on parliament to pause splitting of State Inspector’s Service into two agencies

  • “It was done in a rushed manner without consultation, even with the State Inspector, let alone other stakeholders, and with no accountability or transparency. As far as we can tell, it also didn’t need to be done in a rushed fashion,” said Ambassador Degnan. Photo: US Embassy to Georgia. 

Agenda.ge, 28 Dec 2021 - 13:41, Tbilisi,Georgia

US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has stated that ‘there is no need to rush’ with adopting a bill proposing to replace the State Inspector's Service with two new agencies, calling on the Georgian parliament to slow down the process. 

Georgian Dream party MPs put forward a bill on December 25 based on which the State Inspector’s Service would be replaced by two new agencies – the Special Investigation Service and the Personal Data Protection Service, which would be authorised to investigate offences committed by the authorities and to monitor personal data processing, respectively.

Ambassador Degnan met with State Inspector Londa Toloraia yesterday, after which she praised her for playing a ‘very important role in protecting citizens’ rights’ in the country, noting that the service’s job of investigating potential crimes by public servants and holding them accountable is a ‘difficult job, but an extremely important one.’

She called the new initiative of replacing the State's Inspector’s Service with two agencies ‘concerning,’ adding that the ‘process of developing this law is really of the greatest concern.’

It was done in a rushed manner without consultation, even with the State Inspector, let alone other stakeholders, and with no accountability or transparency. As far as we can tell, it also didn’t need to be done in a rushed fashion,” said Ambassador Degnan.

She also touched upon the issue of possible dismissal of ‘all the current employees in the State Inspector’s service,’ noting that ‘these are experts who’ve been doing these jobs for several years without any complaint or questions by parliament.’

However, the GD maintains that both the investigative and personal data protection agencies will be strengthened as a result of the changes, adding that the current employees of the state service will keep their jobs, as ‘they are professionals who have accumulated serious experience over the years, both in the field of investigation and personal data protection,’ MP Mamuka Mdinaradze said. 

State Inspector Toloraia stated yesterday that the new initiative of the MPs is a 'punishment of the service for its independence,’ noting that ‘the State Inspector’s Service managed to become an independent state agency.’

Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, President Salome Zurabishvili and the parliamentary opposition have also called on the legislative body to refrain from adopting the draft law.

Zurabishvili said that abolition of the Inspector’s Service is ‘unacceptable’ without prior consultations, adding that it is an ‘independent state institution.’ 

NGOs, the parliamentary opposition, State Inspector Londa Toloraia, and Public Defender Nino Lomjaria have criticised the bill stating that the government aims to influence the independent institution. 

The United Nations Human Rights office has called on the GD to withdraw a bill proposing to replace the State Inspector's Service with two new agencies, stating that it is an ‘independent institution with a key role in torture prevention and privacy protection.’

The Georgian parliament adopted the law on the State Inspector’s Service on July 21, 2018, and the Service began operations on November 1, 2019. According to the bill, the State Inspector’s Service is assigned to conduct the investigations with the supervision of the Georgian Prosecutor's office. 

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