Conference in Tbilisi on state liability law

Conference on state liability law. On the panel: Judge Mzia Todua (centre), acting President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Oliver Aldea (on her left), a judge from the Regional Court of Kassel, and Frank Hupfeld (right), Head of Section at the IRZ
Conference on state liability law. On the panel: Judge Mzia Todua (centre), acting President of the Supreme Court, Dr. Oliver Aldea (on her left), a judge from the Regional Court of Kassel, and Frank Hupfeld (right), Head of Section at the IRZ

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.

New Challenges for Media Law – Start of the Media Law Project 2019

During the opening conference on media law in Tbilisi
During the opening conference on media law in Tbilisi

On 2 November 2019, IRZ and the Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani University organised the opening conference for a project on media law in Georgia. This project is part of the “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia” and is financed by the German Federal Foreign Office. The project is targeted at:

  • journalists,
  • lawyers,
  • corporate lawyers,
  • representatives of non-governmental organisations and
  • students following courses in law and journalism.

The conference was opened by Sophio Kiladze, Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights in Georgia, Anri Okhanashvili, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs in Georgia, and Jan Bittner, representing the German Embassy in Tbilisi.

The presentations given by Georgian and German experts covered a broad spectrum of media law topics:

  • “Standards of Freedom of Speech and the Role of the Regulatory Authorities in Georgia” by Ivane Macharadze, Head of Department for the regulation of audiovisual media services
  • “Media Regulation in the EU for a Digital Internal Market” by Dr. Jörg Ukrow, Deputy Director of the Saarland Media Authority and Managing Director of the Institute of European Media Law (EMR)
  • “Privacy rights and Freedom of Speech in Conflict” by Prof. Dr. Hannes Rösler, LL.M (Harvard), a professor in civil law, private international law and comparative law and Director of the Institute of Media and Communications Law (IMKR) at the University of Siegen
  • “Freedom of Speech in Social Media: The Current Reality in Georgia” by Ass. Prof. Dr. Sergi Jorbenadze (LL.M. Bremen), a professor in media law at the Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani University and at the Grigol Robakidze University in Tbilisi
  • “Combating Hate Speech on the Internet and the Responsibilities of Social Network Providers” by Amélie P. Heldt, a junior researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research I Hans Bredow Institute (HBI)
  • “Media Problems in the Digital World” by Nata Dzvelishvili, Executive Director at the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics
  • “Fake news and Disinformation as a Legal Issue” by Dr. Jörg Ukrow
  • “The Reporting of Criminal Offences and the Limitations on Freedom of Speech” by Ushangi Bakhtadze (MS.c, Oxford), Head of the Research Institute for Criminal Law at the Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani University.

The opening conference on “The new Challenges for Media Law” was the first event held as part of the project running until the end of 2019 in Georgia. During the project, media experts from Georgia and the European Union will discuss a selection of media law topics with participants in several workshops and an autumn academy for students.

High-ranking Georgian delegation in Berlin for a working visit on telecommunications surveillance

The Georgian delegation visiting the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community in Berlin
The Georgian delegation visiting the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community in Berlin

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.