Monday, 18 January 2016

The Bill on Police purports to regulate internal affairs, organisation and powers of the Ministry of Interior, as well as other matters of relevance for the operation of the Ministry of Interior, although this goes substantially beyond the scope of police work and organisation and powers of the Police.

The effects of this discrepancy between the title of the Bill on Police and its subject matter is particularly evident in the chapter which pertains to internal and external control of police operations; thus, the Bill on Police apparently provides for the internal and external control of the Ministry of Interior. The arrangements proposed in the Bill on Police still fall short of introducing clearly defined mechanisms for democratic oversight of police work.

The authorities that are specifically designated in the Bill as external control bodies – and are even listed before the independent public authorities in charge of oversight and other authorised public authorities and bodies – are in fact not vested with any oversight powers under the Constitution. The assemblies of territorial autonomy and local self-government units, including city councils, would thus be entrusted with an oversight role, while the Protector of Citizens, as a constitutionally independent institution and the only institution explicitly authorised to oversee both the legality and the regularity of work of public authorities, is not specifically named as a body in charge of external control.

The text of the Bill will have to be improved as it pertains to rights of the child, especially with regard to child victims of criminal offences and child victims of violence, abuse and neglect, and as it pertains to security clearance procedures, special cases of termination of employment, polygraph interrogations, disciplinary liability for information “leaks” during ongoing investigations and public disclosure of information which violates citizens’ rights.