•  
    •  
    • Press Contact

    • For information regarding BCSP activities please contact our Communications Officer

      Dragana Belanovic +381646479097

      dragana.belanovic@bezbednost.org

       

    •  
    •  
    • Info BCSP

    • Sign up to receive our e-bulletin.
    •  
    •  
    •  
     
    • Education - key to a better surveillance oversight

    •  
    • Date: 08 September 2015
      BCSP Conference on the Oversight of Implementation of Special Investigative Measures was held with more than 60 participants, including representatives from the ruling political parties as well as opposition, security institutions, the media and experts.

      The key to a better oversight of implementation of Special Investigative Measures is the education of judges, prosecutors, MPs, journalists and citizens - this was the conclusion of the BCSP Conference held at Zira Hotel, on September 8, 2015.

      BCSP Executive Director, Predrag Petrovic, pointed out that this project, dedicated to the difficulties of oversight of implementation of Special Investigative Measures, had highlighted a general lack of knowledge among MPs and journalists, as well as the representatives from courts and prosecutor’s office in this field.

      “In an effort to achieve a comprehensive oversight of implementation of Special Investigative Measures, BCSP has created the Handbook, primarily intended for the members of National Assembly Committees, but also for journalists interested in the field of security. The research includes the legal framework as well as judiciary practice. On the other hand, we tried to make the subject matter interesting for the people as well. To that end, in collaboration with Marko Somborac, we have created attractive comics, and the results of our research are also available as infographics. Other than that, we have created a separate portal on our website - Who is listening, where we tried to explain this complicated matter in an engaging way,” said Petrovic, coordinator of the project, in his introductory speech.

      Chairman of the Security Services Control Committee, Momir Stojanovic said that the committee had dedicated a lot of its time in 2015 to the oversight of three intelligence services, especially the secret data collection. According to Mr. Stojanovic there is a risk that, under the guise of organized crime fight, the methods used may infringe upon constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens. He stated that it was necessary to maintain a balance between being in constant fear of surveillance and understanding the necessity of work of intelligence services and pointed out the main issues regarding the oversight of implementation of SIM.

      National Assembly should oversee the Criminal Force Directorate

      The discussion on oversight of implementation of special investigative measures has gained a lot of attention from the media as well as the experts in the field.
      The discussion on oversight of implementation of special investigative measures has gained a lot of attention from the media as well as the experts in the field.
      “Serbia does not have any legislation when it comes to selling the surveillance equipment, which is why anyone can import it. That is why it is imperative to identify the owners of such equipment and determine if they have the right to own it. The Criminal Force Directorate is not being overseen by any of the National Assembly Committees, and it uses more special measures per year than the three intelligence agencies combined. The next issue is the fact that the monitoring centre is located at the headquarters of Security Information Agency and is being used by the Ministry of Interior as well as military intelligence services, when it should be under the auspices of Ministry of Justice given the fact that the implementation of SIM is authorised by the courts. There is also a need for education of the institutions that authorise the implementation of SIM so they would be able to recognize a legitimate need for those measures,” said Stojanovic.

      The president of the Association of Public Prosecutors and Deputy Public Prosecutors of Serbia, and the Deputy Republic Public Prosecutor Goran Ilic said that the important question was whether the evidence could be collected in another way, without the invasion of personal privacy and pointed out the importance of independence of the institutions implementing those measures.

      “The issues of restrictiveness and proportionality are crucial, but there aren’t enough cases of Supreme Court of Cassation dealing with them. The oversight of implementation of Special Investigative Measures is possible only if the institutions involved remain independent. In Serbia, these institutions do not have any guarantees of independence and appear to be susceptible to political influence and unable to resist the corruption when it is linked to the current political power,” said Ilic.

      Kraljevo High Court judge, Miroljub Vujovic, also stated that the main responsibility when it came to Special Investigative Measures lay with the courts, for it is the courts that need to assess the grounds for authorisation, and stressed the need for further training of the judges in that area.

      “The legal framework that determines the criteria used by the judges is nonspecific and too extensive. In practice the courts authorise these measures, maybe even too much, which could be a consequence of the lack of education in that area. In our case, so far we have authorised over 700 permissions for the use of SIM in 2015, and we didn’t attend a single training for judicial control,” said Vujovic.

      BIA responds to all oversight requests

      During the conference there was an exhibition of comics created by Marko Somborac in cooperation with BCSP research team
      During the conference there was an exhibition of comics created by Marko Somborac in cooperation with BCSP research team

      The Advisor to the Director of Security Information Agency, Miroslav Panic, believes that there is a hyperproduction of institutions that oversee the agencies, but points out that it is a good thing because “there are guarantees that the agencies will not abuse their own authority”. He said that the BIA had allowed oversight to all three branches of government as well as independent institutions and stressed the need for reconciliation of the Agencie’s need for efficiency and the need for oversight.

      “The intelligence service has a duty to submit a report twice a year to the government. The Security Services Control Committee has intensified its mechanisms of oversight and controlled the political neutrality and the legality of BIA’s work. The Ombudsman often initiates procedures for oversight. The Commissioner receives a report on the implementation of SIM. Citizens are also allowed to oversee the work of the agency through the requests for access to information of public importance. None of the institutions that have performed the oversight of Agency’s work have reported illegalities, and the number of irregularities reported is at a minimum,” said Panic.

      On the other hand, Senior Advisor to the Ombudsman, Marko Jovanovic, stated that this year there had been a step back when it came to the cooperation between intelligence agencies and the Ombudsman. He said that, rather than providing the information requested, the agencies often interpreted the law and decided for themselves whether or not the Ombudsman was supposed to criticize their work. As a recommendation he stressed out the need for added legislation in this area.

      The questions from the audience mainly concerned the leaked records of the meetings between Ministry of Interior personnel with Rodoljub Radulovic, during the time when Ivica Dacic was in office. Momir Stojanovic stated that there was a need for investigation of the “leak” and pointed out that incidents like that would occur for as long as those employed by the institutions and the security sector do not bear the consequences for the disclosure of official secrets.

      The conference is part of the project "Who Controls the Wire: Towards the Effective External Oversight of the Use of Special Investigative Measures", supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

      Report was contributed by BCSP Intern Emilija Dimitrijevic

      Translated by BCSP Intern Luka Dragovic

    •  
    • Post a comment

    •  
    •  
    • See all comments

    •  
    •