Web Portal on Human Rights in Georgia

Transparency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

28.04.2017
 
Lana Giorgidze

On April 25, Transparency International – Georgia and Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) presented the joint survey report Transparency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Executive director of the Transparency International – Georgia (TI-Georgia) Eka Gigauri said the report aims at defining the level of transparency of the Ministry and the reasons hindering it, as well as, increasing the accessibility to the information in the system of the Georgian police and providing an analysis of the structure and system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, following the reforms of 2015.

According to the TI-Georgia, the reporting period of the survey is from January 2016 till December 2016. The project activities are broken down into three main parts: Determining the accessibility to public information; Increasing accessibility to information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Analysis of the structure and system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
According to the report authors, when determining the accessibility to public information in the MIA, they identified that the Ministry responds to the letters requesting the public information. At the same time, the information is mostly issued completely and in full compliance with the requested information. However, the issuing of public information on time, as defined by law, has been identified as significant problem.

“The information provided by the Ministry has in some cases been assessed as incomplete. The classification of documents as state secrets limits the accessibility to public information though the Ministry was unable to provide sufficient argumentation for it. The Ministry does not implement its obligation to publish the information proactively,” the Report reads.

Representatives of the EMC stated that within framework of the survey, they sent 11 applications to the Ministry with the request of public information. Each letter requested different volumes of public information on thematically grouped issues, amongst them active guidelines and procedures of the police, staffing policy of the Ministry, hierarchical structures, arrest statistics and methodology on producing archives/databases. The survey authors received only two out of the requested information on time within 10-day timeframe but the rest were sent through violation of the terms.

As for providing the complete information, MIA issued only 7 complete information out of 11 requested; 4 of them were incomplete. 

Although administrative complaint was filed, the MIA did not issue the following information: how many employees received bonuses in 2014-2015? How many of them were senior officials and according to which criteria and in which amount the bonuses were paid? How many people were employed and dismissed from the MIA in 2014-2015? And information about the forms and number of disciplinary violations in 2014. 
EMC representative Mariam Mkhatvari said limited access to the public information, due to their state secret status, was identified as a significant challenge during the survey. The Ministry has denied the issuing of the following information on the basis of the Law on State Secrets:  Statutes of the MIA’s Special Task and Operative Departments; actual number of employees (in whole) and established number of staff members in the MIA’s Special Task and Operative Departments; actual number of employees and established number of staff members in the Border Police of Georgia – Subordinate State Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The request for declassification of information is being processed in the Tbilisi City Court. The Ministry has provided the survey authors with the following response after we had filed our motivated statement asking for the declassification of the information:

„The statutes of the Special Tasks and Operative Departments include information on state security, law and order and operative-investigative activities that are classified as state secret due to it being vital for the preservation of the interests of the state. As for the number of employees and permanent staff […], its declassification will cause the divulgence of information, including names and locations of the structural subdivisions of the intelligence, counter intelligence and other special forces. This also goes against the interests of security and defense of the state.”

The survey authors requested information from the MIA about the facts of administrative violations. A special order of the Minister of Internal Affairs defines the time-frames for processing, storage, deletion and archiving of data inside the Ministry’s filing systems. The following data are archived for indefinite time: data on domestic violence, its perpetrators, restraining and protective orders; Data on foreign citizens residing in Georgia without a legal basis; Data available on a person's drug test; Data on administrative offenses, and more. 

E.G appealed the unidentified time of archiving the data on administrative offences at the Constitutional Court of Georgia, and on February 9, 2017 the Court ruled that the regulation violates the right to free development of the person that is guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia. 

The report also reviews the regulations for granting employees access to certain categories of data are defined by an Order of the Minister of Internal Affairs. Each instance of access to certain information by the MIA employee is controlled only after the fact that is not positively assessed by the survey authors. Considering that, the survey authors recommend that the inspectors of the Personal Data Protection shall inspect the MIA within their competence based on their own initiative or based on the applications of interested individual. 

Within framework of the survey, the NGOs requested information about salaries, bonuses and supplements. In accordance to the provided information, in 2015 senior officials, other employees and supernumerary employees of the MIA received salaries, supplementary and bonuses in the amount of 317, 679, 135.47 GEL. The authors say the Ministry does not have clear regulations to incentivize the employees that create doubts over transparency and accountability of the incentivizing procedures. 

At the end of the report presentation, the director of the Survey and Development Department of the MIA Valer Lomuashvili voiced the position of the MIA about the survey findings.

“In comparison to previous years, it is easier to request public information from the MIA. In future, the Ministry will do more to take the remarks and recommendations of the NGOs into account. There are some issues where our positions do not coincide and we cannot agree with your views,” Lomuashvili said.

He added that the Ministry works on all issues and has its vision and action plan with regard to each topic raised in the survey. According to Lomuashvili, the Ministry soon will present the information processed by the special working group. 

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