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          • Year: 2020
          • Key Aspects of Security Services Reform: the Experiences of Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro

          • In the new policy paper, BCSP Executive Director Predrag Petrovic highlighted recommendations on how to regulate covert surveillance of communications and the human resources of the security services, to reduce the likelihood of political and personal abuses.

        • Security services derive their power from secret and exclusive access to and control of information, on the basis of which they covertly influence the most important decisions and processes in the state and in society. This is why any reform of the security services must entail the establishment of institutional arrangements such as mechanisms and procedures that prevent the abuse of covert data collection and make effective oversight and control possible.

           

           

          In order for reform of the security services to be successful, however, it is not enough to simply design mechanisms and procedures in accordance with democratic standards - it is also necessary to comprehensively reform human resources in the services as existing employees are precisely the people who are unlikely to comply with the new norms.

           

          The publication will show in detail how to regulate covert surveillance of communications and the human resources of the security services in a manner that would reduce the likelihood of (personal and political) abuses, as the two key segments of security service reform. The conclusions and recommendations are based on the findings of research conducted into the security services of North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro.

           

          Recommendations

           

          Covert Surveillance of Communications

           

          1. A special operational and technical body should be formed to act as an independent mediator between the courts, as the bodies that order covert surveillance of communications, and the security services, as the bodies that execute it.
          2. It is very important to ensure that mobile equipment used for covert surveillance of communications is used only upon receipt of court approval, that each use of such equipment is indelibly recorded and that such equipment is stored in such a way that only authorised personnel can access it.
          3. For the purposes of effective control, it is necessary to maintain separate and comparable records of each and every instance in which equipment for covert surveillance of communications is accessed.

           

          Human Resource Management

           

          1. The criteria and procedures for candidate selection for senior positions in the security services (the directors and deputy directors) should be regulated by law and their term in office and the scope of their powers should be defined.
          2. Effective reform of the security services requires the overhaul of human resources, which entails the release of personnel socialised in the secret services of previous, undemocratic regimes.
          3. The European Union should pay more attention to the security and intelligence sectors in the accession process of Western Balkan countries, given the great potential for the abuse of this sector for the purposes of state capture.

           

          This analysis is supported by European Fund for the Balkans within the regional program Think and Link  through the project “Watching the Watchers: Towards Accountable Intelligence Services in the Western Balkans”, which is jointly implemented by Belgrade Centre for Security Policy from Serbia, Center for European Strategies - EUROTHINK from North Macedonia and Institute Alternative from Montenegro.

        • Tags: security services, state capture, security sector reform, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Watching the watchers, Predrag Petrović
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