22.05.2000 | Evhen Zakharov, Kharkiv

An international conference on wiretapping


The Kharkiv Group for human rights protection (KG), jointly with the Information and Documentation Center of the Council of Europe in Ukraine held the second in the current year conference in Kyiv. At the first conference, held in the end of March, problems of the civil education were considered, and the participants were mainly teachers of human rights in high schools. The second international conference, held on 22 . 23 September, was oriented mainly to lawyers and officers of security services and was devoted to the international and national legislation on wiretapping. The conference was held in the framework of the interaction between the Council of Europe and Ukraine in the sphere of human rights protection, and also in the framework of the international project . Security services under constitutional democracies. , in which KG represents Ukraine. One hundred people participated in the conference, among them 83 citizens of Ukraine and 17 foreigners. 48 out of 83 Ukrainian participants are lawyers: 20 teachers of higher schools (National Juridical Academy, Institute of advocates at Kyiv University, the USS Academy, National Academy of frontier guards, University of interior affairs and some others), 30 state officials, including 16 officers of security services, 5 representatives of the Parliament, 2 of the President. s administration, 5 from various directorates of the Ministry of Interior, 3 of the USS, 3 of the State Committee in charge of communication, 5 from the State Committee in charge of the frontier defense, 1 from the National Security and Defense Council, 1 from the Constitutional Court and 1 from the State Tax Inspection. Thus, representatives of all law-enforcing structures, having the right for the ODA, were present. There were also 37 NGO representatives and 8 journalists of the central Ukrainian newspapers. As to the foreigners, 2 of them represented the Council of Europe, 3 were from German, USA and Finland embassies, there was 1 representative from Russia and 1 from Moldova. The rest were the participants of the project . Security services under constitutional democracies. , experts from Belarus, Holland, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Czechia, Estonia and the USA.

Each participant of the conference was given the following printed matter:

the European Convention of human rights and freedoms (the official translation to Ukrainian of the last version of the Convention, which contains the Protocol No. 11);

the list of Conventions of the Council of Europe signed and ratified by Ukraine as on 20 July 1999, in Ukrainian;

the document . Security services under constitutional democracies: principles of oversight and responsibilities. , in Russian and English;

a quarterly . The freedom of speech and privacy. , issues 1 and 2, in Ukrainian;

the leaflet . Observance of human rights in Ukraine in 1998. , the special issue of the bulletin . Prava ludyny. , No. 11 (48), published by KG, in Ukrainian;

The book . Wiretapping in the international right and in national legislation of 11 European countries. , special issue of the bulletin . Prava ludyny. , No. 12 (49), in Russian;

a review of KG activities, in Ukrainian and English;

the agenda of the conference.

The book on wiretapping attracted the greatest interest of the participants. The book attempts to survey the legislation of a number of European countries on wiretapping and the analysis of their legislation with respect to the norms of the European right. At first a definition of wiretapping is elaborated, then some decisions of the European Court on human rights (up to the beginning of 1996) are described, standards are defined to make the national legislation concord with Article 8 of the European Convention on human rights. After this the main statements of the international right are compared with national legislation in 11 European countries: the United Kingdom, German, Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. The survey of national legislation of each of the above-listed countries has the purpose of answering the questions: Which are the conditions when the state power has the legal right to intercept a telecommunication? Which is the procedure of getting the permission to wiretap? Which are the procedures of checking whether the wiretapping is correct? To which degree national legal procedures agree with the standards set by the European Court on human rights? The next part of the book provides information about international and national projects aimed at oversight of the information processing in electronic communication, such as the intercontinental system . Echelon. , the project ENFOPOL suggested by the Council of Europe, the USA laws aimed at the support of law-enforcing bodies in the sphere of communication, the Russian system COPM, etc. The appendix to the book contains a translation from German of the law on telecommunication, as the law which regulates the modern electronic communications.

Wiretapping was considered at the conference as a part of two wider problems: 1) Which is the legal base for the interference of the state bodies into the communication exchange? 2) How must special services act in democratic societies in order not to abuse human rights? The first problem was elucidated in the report of Vsevolod Rechitskiy, the Constitutional expert of KG, a assistant professor in the National Juridical Academy. This report titled . Freedom of information exchange in the context of the modern philosophy of the right. . Readers of . Prava ludyny. will soon be able to get acquainted with this report in the bulletin. The report of Andrzei Rzeplinski, Helsinki foundation of human rights in Poland, professor of the right in Warsaw University, was devoted to the second problem. His report was titled . Survey of the project . Security services under constitutional democracies. : results and prospects. . Another report on the topic, related to the second problem, was delivered by the doctor of law Kate Martin (USA), titled . Survey of . Principles of oversight and responsibility of security services in democratic societies. . . After this all the experts present at the conference reviewed national laws and law-applying practices of wiretapping in their countries, speaking not only on wiretapping, but about any informational control. Stephen Livingston, Doctor of Law from the UK, an expert of the Council of Europe, made a report on court decisions of the European Court on human rights concerning wiretapping. The report . Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe: successes, prospects, problems. was delivered by Oleksandr Pavlychenko, the director of the Information and Documentation Center of the Council of Europe in Ukraine. Several reports concerned various aspects of the Ukrainian laws and law-applying practices of the information control in telecommunication networks.

In our opinion, the conference demonstrated many drawbacks of the Ukrainian laws on the information exchange control, as well as in the laws of many other countries. The European Court insists that wiretapping may be conducted only after receiving a sanction of some court. Another important demand is to make the wiretapping procedure transparent, to facilitate the oversight. Another conclusion of the discussion is that in all countries security services would like to make the legislation on wiretapping such that it would facilitate their work, and they manage to get such laws exactly as the public permits them to do it. The more passive the public is, the less efficient are the oversight procedures and the more probable misuse is.

Yet, the new technologies bring additional opportunities for criminals. Now the crime has become very sophisticated, because the criminals use new information technologies. So security services must possess adequate facilities to stop and investigate corresponding crimes. That is why such projects, as . Echelon. , INFOPOL, COPM and the like have appeared. That is why it is very important to analyze information exchange under the new conditions and to develop new guarantees of the human rights protection in this sphere.

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