Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili on Wednesday vetoed a ruling party bill that extends scope and time limits on covert investigative actions, surveillance and wiretapping by state authorities, citing human rights concerns in her decision.
Approved by the Parliament several weeks ago, the now-vetoed bill is likely to be still approved by the ruling party despite the veto, however Zourabichvili said she was making the decision anyway to highlight her “political veto rather than a legal one” over the matter.
Zourabichvili stressed she believed approving bills that “restrict human rights” was “wrong” in the political climate where the country’s authorities were being “asked to provide more [human rights] guarantees and be more democratic”.
She added she would veto “all bills that reflect wrong directions” over the next six months, as the country enters a crucial phase of fulfilling European Commission conditions before the end of the year for receiving the European Union membership candidate status.
The bill increases time limits for covert investigative actions from six to nine months, with wiretapping and surveillance able to be extended indefinitely in some cases.
At her briefing, Zourabichvili also criticised both the Georgian Government and opposition, noting she was “completely concerned” about the “confrontation, insults, intolerance and disobedience” both sides showed at Wednesday’s parliament session, instead of displaying “restraint, politeness and respect” that she said would demonstrate Georgia’s positive side to its European partners.
Let’s not dwell on what happened over this past year and what led [this month] to the [European Commission’s] decision [to issue a set of conditions for granting Georgia the EU membership candidate status], which will probably be [formally] approved in two days [by the European Council],” she said.
The important thing is what is happening now, what we are doing in these last days in order to present our issue in the most positive way and get successful results [in Georgia’s EU membership bid]”, the President stressed in her comments.