Answers for daily newspapers “Dnevne novine”: Challenges In The Oversight of the Security Sector

Daily newspaper reporter’s questions:
– Challenges / problems in the security sector – Parliamentary Oversight – SAI

Issues that remain a challenge for the Montenegrin security sector are: development of oversight practices and democratic and civilian control of the security and defense sector institutions; and on the other hand, seeking the most appropriate model of relations and division of responsibilities between the two institutions that would result in the efficient fight against corruption and organized crime. The latter is a primary goal of this institution in the future and the further progress of Montenegro’s EU integration largely depends on it. Although the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), which regulates these relations, came into force only in September 2012, the initiatives for division of responsibilities between the police, prosecutors and investigating judges to be changed have already emerged under the guise of inefficiency.

When it comes to the oversight of security institutions, the most proactive is the Parliamentary Committee on Security and Defence. The Law on Parliamentary Oversight in the Field of Security and Defense, which regulates the work of this Committee, is a progressive legal solution which assigns to the Committee certain supervision mechanisms. However, the controls do not sufficiently apply and only the practice of oversight will develop their effectiveness that can be achieved by control of the state authorities. The Committee adopted conclusions which are still very general and do not offer sufficient guidance for the improvement of this sector. Institutions submit annual reports on their activities, but the structure of these statements is not defined in advance, although institutions have sufficient space to inform the Committee about the matters its evaluation is needed. This is particularly concerning when it comes to the NSA.

The first report of the SAI on the audit of NSA’s annual financial report in 2011 is extremely important and represents the first control by an independent institution responsible for the oversight of the NSA. Other institutions such as the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Agency for the Protection of Personal Data, didn’t carry out oversight of the NSA although they have the legal competence for carrying it out. Since the question of legality of the implementation of secret surveillance measures by the National Security Agency is often raised, and since it temporarily restricts constitutionally guaranteed rights of individuals, there is an urgent need for a detailed oversight of the way the NSA is collecting data.

The SAI’s finding which confirms that the NSA’s General Inspector, in charge of internal control in NSA, didn’t submit Reports on the controls of the Government or the director of the NSA, is especially alarming since it is a legal obligation. We believe that the Committee should hold an emergency hearing of the Government’s representatives which would explain why the General Inspector does not exercise the control.

The original article can be found here.

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