Security and intelligence agencies will be decoupled from the Interior Ministry and a separate, State Security Service, will be set up, according to a reform proposal elaborated by the government, Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told lawmakers at a joint hearing of several parliamentary committees on May 7.
The Interior Ministry is a powerful structure uniting under its subordination broad range of “power-wielding agencies” from police, security and intelligence services to border guard and coast guard. The interior and security ministries merged in 2004.
“The planned changes will provide for de-concentration of excessive power within [a single ministry] and it will have a positive effect on efficient protection of human rights,” Gomelauri said.
He said that the under the plan a candidate for head of the State Security Service will be nominated by the Prime Minister; a candidate will require support of more than half of lawmakers to be appointed as head of the State Security Service for a six-year term. The same person will not be able to take the post for a second term.
Among others, counter-intelligence, anti-terrorist center and operative-technical department, which is in charge of surveillance operations, will be part of the State Security Agency, Gomelauri said.
Gomelauri said that at this stage a “mechanical decoupling” will take place and more reforms both in the Interior Ministry and in the State Security Service will be carried out gradually if need be.
Last week PM Irakli Garibashvili said that a relevant bill on Interior Ministry reform had already been drafted and would be sent to Parliament for consideration after the reshuffled cabinet wins confidence vote.
Gomelauri, along with five other ministers, appeared before lawmakers on a joint session of four parliamentary committees as part of confirmation hearings of reshuffled cabinet, which started on May 7.
UNM opposition lawmakers walked out from the hearing, complaining that not enough time was allocated for questions to ministers. PM Garibashvili and other ministers will appear separately before UNM and Free Democrats opposition MPs later on May 7 as part of confirmation hearings ahead of confidence vote, scheduled for May 8. Ministers with economy-related portfolios will appear before a joint hearing of relevant parliamentary committees.