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On 29 November 2019, a conference was held on state liability law at the Supreme Court in Tbilisi. As well as the acting President of the Supreme Court, Mzia Todua, and the Georgian expert Prof. Paata Turava from the Tbilisi State University, judges and scientific staff from the Supreme Court in Georgia also attended this event. The expert appointed by the IRZ was Dr. Oliver Aldea, a judge at the Regional Court of Kassel.
As a result of the protests against planned voting reforms, state liability law is once again the subject of debate in Georgia. Demands for the Georgian state to take responsibility for dealing with demonstrators have increased, for example. In this context, Dr. Aldea started by explaining the legal situation concerning state liability law in Germany.
In Germany – as in Georgia – there is a clear and comprehensive distinction between private and administrative law claims and this separation, for historical reasons, can be difficult for outsiders to understand. However, German and Georgian cases were used to provide a clear presentation of the legal situation in Germany and, with reference to the lecture given by Prof. Turava, as a model to explain Georgian legal issues. The situation in Georgia is not clear either and the laws set out in the civil code and administrative code are contradictory in places.
The discussions that took place during the conference, which became passionate in places, revealed that a change to the Georgian law on state liability is required and that the legislator needs to ensure that legal regulations are clear. The IRZ will therefore address the subject of state liability law again next year whenever it is possible.
Telecommunications surveillance was the focus of the working visit made by a high-ranking Georgian delegation to Berlin from 8 to 12 April 2019. The discussions with their German colleagues focussed on access to telecommunications surveillance of traffic data and its use and storage, as well as compliance with basic rights guaranteed by the constitution.
In these times of globalisation and advancing digitalisation, the practical importance of covert investigation measures, in particular telecoms surveillance, and their potential for criminal investigations and risk prevention, are constantly increasing. At the same time, telecoms surveillance presents the constitutional state with new challenges. These involve in particular the use of the collected data and the associated inevitable infringement of the basic rights of the person concerned.
The Georgian delegation was made up of three chairpersons of the Parliamentary Committee, the President and two Vice-Presidents of the Constitutional Court and Georgian data protection officers.
At the start of the working visit, Dr. Monika Becker, head of section at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, presented the legal requirements and current legal situation for telecommunications surveillance in Germany to the guests. At the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, the delegation was welcomed by the Parliamentary State Secretary, Stephan Mayer (MdB). Employees from the individual departments explained Germany’s security structure in great detail.
On the same day, the delegation visited the Berlin liaison office of the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI). The German Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Ulrich Kelber, welcomed the delegation in person and pointed out that surveillance measures regularly mean a serious infringement of fundamental rights and therefore require particular attention to be paid to data protection.
The Georgian guests were given insights into the practical and technical implementation of telecoms surveillance measures, both when they met representatives of the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation) and when visiting the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Berlin. At the General Prosecutor’s Office for the State of Berlin, they were welcomed by Prosecutor General Margarete Koppers. There they learned about the legal requirements set out in the telecoms surveillance order.
At the German Bundestag Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection, the delegation was received by Chairman Stephan Brandner (MdB) and four other members of the Committee. Some very interesting discussions took place in the Committee in accordance with art. 13, para. 6 of the German Federal Constitution. Members of the G10 Commission and representatives of the Parliamentary Control Panel then went on to present the system for parliamentary control.
The media regulation event marked the conclusion of the “@Media Societies – Georgia 2018” project” and was the last intervention by the IRZ in Georgia last year. The event, which took place from 14 to 17 December 2018 in Tbilisi, was targeted at representatives of the Georgian media scene. The project was supported by the German Foreign Office.
Under the scientific supervision of Thomas Wierny and Tobias Brings-Wiesen, three German media experts led workshops covering the following topics:
Manfred Protze (German Press Council): Self-regulation in the press and broadcasting sector;
Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel (University of Münster): Regulating social media;
Dr. Frederik Ferreau (University of Cologne): Revised guidelines for audiovisual media services.
Before starting to work in groups, there was a joint half-day opening event, which helped participants to familiarise themselves with the subject and in particular to gain a deeper understanding of the basic objectives and principles of liberal media regulation. The German experts then went on to explain the European regulations. Georgian experts took over for the presentation of the legal and market situation in Georgia.
During the course of the workshops, each working group documented the existing problems, worked on practical and regulatory approaches to finding solutions and developed recommendations together. The documents produced in this way should act as guidelines for the Georgians in their future work on the political and legislative process.
As a member of the Council of Europe, Georgia is governed by the mandatory provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). The country is also aiming to become a member of the European Union. The Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia, which came into force on 1 July 2016, includes some regulations on European media law to be implemented. In view of these objectives, the timing and contents of the workshop were particularly poignant.