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    • Serbian Constitution Should Put the Security System in Service of the Citizens

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    • Date: 28 March 2018
      Constitutional regulation of the security system should be a part of the ongoing constitutional reforms in order to constrain political power and establish a strong democratic civilian control. Apart from the actual text of the Constitution, of great importance are also the process of its adoption, as well as its subsequent implementation, it was concluded at the event organized by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) on March 28th, 2018 at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade.
       

      President of BCSP’s Executive Board Miroslav Hadzic emphasized the need for a separate chapter regulating security in the Constitution of Serbia. That chapter should include a clear-cut provision that all actors with security powers are subjected to a democratic civilian control, and not only the Army, as is now the case.

      "All post-conflict societies have the problem of defining the security of the political community as a public good. If citizens are not safe, the state can't be either. Citizens' right to participate in the process of forming the optimal security system should be strengthened. Power holders in Serbia have for long practiced the democratic civilian control of security structures rather as a personal control.“ Hadzic explained.

      BCSP Researcher Jelena Pejic presented main findings of comparative analyses of constitutional provisions in the area of security and Serbian constitutional tradition. She pointed out that the Serbian Constitution in force has omitted the identification of state actors authorized to use force, like the police and the security services, that are regularly constitutionally regulated in other countries. Bodies like national security council mostly belong to the constitutional matter, and constitutions of Montenegro and Croatia also contain the obligation to adopt the national security strategy, BCSP researcher said. 

      „There is a tendency of regulating security more comprehensively in the constitutions of post-conflict societies. South Africa is a great example, where the constitution was adopted in a very inclusive process and became the basis of social cohesion after ending the apartheid regime. It refers to 'security services', not 'forces', which also marks the change of the security apparatus’ relation to the citizens“, Pejic concluded.

       

      Professor at the Faculty of Political Science Djordje Pavicevic warned that apart from the actual text of the Constitution, it is also important how it was adopted and how it’s being implemented because the Constitution is the most relevant instrument for constraining political power.

      "If a particular area is well regulated in the Constitution, eventual abuses by the power holders become more evident. The final stand of constitutionalism is democracy and the control it entails", Pavicevic said. 

      Ivan Dimitrijevic from the Faculty of Security Studies pointed out that a systematic regulation of security should be open to deliberation in an inclusive process.He reminded that the Serbian Constitution of 2006 was promptly adopted after the state community with Montenegro had dissolved; the tendency to work in a rush was evident also when system laws on the security sector were adopted, as well as the National Security Strategy.

       „Serbia inherited political inconsistency of the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, where the security system represents the security of the state, and not of its citizens. We still live in the world of state security, it is the system we inherited from the past", Dimitrijevic underlined.

      In 2017 the Government of the Republic of Serbia has initiated the debate on constitutional reforms in the judicial sector after this area was identified as one of the major barriers for progress of Serbian accession negotiations with the European Union. Debate on the Government’s constitutional amendments regarding judiciary is still ongoing. 

      Belgrade Centre for Security Policy aims to contribute to a wider debate on what constitution citizens of Serbia need, with a special focus on the security system that has been the object of BCSP's research, analyses, and recommendations for more than 20 years.
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