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21.01.2010

25 thousand wiretapping permits a year

   

Ukrainians remain unprotected legislatively from wiretapping and intrusion in their private life. Human rights activists speak of the authorities receiving more than 25 thousand court warrants for intercepting information from communication channels each year.

Wiretapping, interception of emails, surveillance, etc are standard devices for Ukrainian law enforcement officers. It is extremely difficult to protect yourself from it since, as KHPG Co-Chair Yevhen Zakharov explains, legislation in no way complies with Ukraine’s commitments before the Council of Europe.

Politicians are also not protected from bugs and concealed cameras, as can be seen from high-profile scandals over the tapping of the highest-ranking people in the country.  Yet, Mr Zakharov notes, they show little interest in ensuring that laws on interception of communication channels are followed and in accordance with European standards. They think they know how to protect themselves. Both Tymoshenko and Yanukovych have made use of the special room in the Cabinet of Ministers where conversations cannot be tapped.

A scandal is raging linked to the publishing in the media of excepts supposedly of conversations between Prime Minister Tymoshenko and Georgian President Saakashvili, during which Tymoshenko promises to help register more than 2 thousand Georgian observers at the 17 January elections. On Wednesday 20 January BYuT, Tymoshenko’s bloc, stated that the conversations had been tapped without the sanction of Prosecutor or court, while at the same time not confirming whether or not the telephone conversation had taken place.

It is difficult to complain to the courts about wiretapping since a person may not even know, and proving it is difficult. However two such cases have been heard in the European Court of Human Rights, although its judgment on the need to improvement legislation on tapping has not been implemented.  Yevhen Zakharov believes that Ukraine should introduce amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code similar to those in Germany. Law enforcement agencies should have to report each year on the number of tapping permits, why they were obtained and how they were used. This would reduce the amount of material gathering to compromise a person and intrusions into their private life.

Slightly abridged from a text at www.dw-world.de

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