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    • The integrity of security services should be strengthened

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    • Date: 05 September 2014
      The debate organized by the BCSP outlined clear legal framework, procedures, appropriate control, and independence from any sort of political influence as requirements in order to strengthen the security services integrity.

      “The integrity of Security Services” was the topic of round table discussions organized by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) on September 5th 2014. It attracted more than 30 participants, including representatives of National Parliament, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Security Information Agency, Military Intelligence Agency, Military Security Agency, embassies, civil society organizations and media.

      “Institutional integrity in Serbia is not completely established. Adequate legislation is lacking, therefore new Law on Security Information Agency is required. Furthermore, this would also require certain constitutional modification”, stated BCSP Executive Director Predrag Petrović.

      Security Information Agency requires new legislation

      Momir Stojanović, the Chairperson of the Security Services Control Committee, pointed out that the main conditions for integrity within such services include an appropriate legal framework that defines: organization’s position within the system, clear procedures and rules of conduct, and a set of defined sanctions in cases of misconduct.

      Mr. Stojanović believes that new legislation is the path to solution. However, before taking such steps, a new, single system of security services should be established since the security sector in Serbia is not well integrated at this point.

      He also outlined that “Serbia doesn’t have an adequate legal framework which would guarantee security services’ integrity and credibility.” Moreover “both the administration and the opposition concurred that new legislation is required. Beforehand, security sector should be redefined. This would mean “merging civil and military intelligence.” Likewise, civil and military counterintelligence services would be merged as another cluster. Duties and responsibilities of the last, third cluster would resemble those of American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

      Political influence was mentioned as one of the factors that reduce the institutional integrity. Consequently, Miroslav Hadžić, president of BCSP board, stated that “the relationship between political and security elites is neglected by the lack of knowledge on security services”

      Corruption in Security Services

      Mr. Hadžić added that “Trading of influence occurs between political and security elites. It’s a type of corruption that is hard to discover due to its concealed and abstract nature. We should ask ourselves is it possible to have credible security services in a devastated, highly-corrupted society.” He also asked whether it is “reasonable to expect that institutions in such circumstances could be immune and protected from corruption?”

      Matthé van den Bersselaar, a veteran with 35 years of experience, currently working as integrity-building consultant at ”Cedar Adisors”presented some experiences from Dutch security services.

      He stated that ”If security services act secretly or deceptively, and if they guard their information only for themselves, then the society has no use in such a security service and it shouldn’t exist. Purpose of the organization is to contribute to a better, more secure, and prosperous society. it shouldn’t act as a mere support to an acting minister.” Moreover, ”recruitment process should be carefully done since a concertation of social elites within the service is not recommendable nor beneficial”. There is a great need to ”involve young people that posses communication and teamwork skills and they should be inaccessible to corruption” Finally, Mr. Bersselaar emphasized the importance of rotating positions within the organization.

      The discusson caught significant media attention. The conference was the topic of reports of daily newspaper Večernje novosti, Danas, and Blic. Besides them, websites RTS and B92 and TV Kopernikus and Belgrade Radio (Radio Beograd) were also reporting from the conference.   

      The discussion is held within the project Partnership for integrity in Security Sector in Serbia, whose realization is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Civil Society Forward Program managed by Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC).   
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