TIRANA – Main recommendations on how to improve the external oversight and internal control mechanisms for a more transparent and accountable police service were presented by Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) on 11 December 2018 in Tirana.
IDM Researcher Redion Qirjazi highlighted the critical issues regarding the internal control mechanisms through the distinctions between the role of the Directorate on Performance and Standards (DPS) within the State Police and the Service on Internal Affairs and Complaints (SIAC). The latter is the main control mechanism in place to safeguard police integrity.
“The main aspects of an effective internal control are the better coordination of the control and inspection role between DPS and SIAC to avoid overlapping of tasks. The amendment of the law on SIAC is needed in order to guarantee more independence through the appointment of its Director approved by the Parliament. The stability of this institution is hindered by the frequent changes on the Ministry level which immediately translates in the removal of the head of the SIAC,” outlined Qirjazi.
Moreover, citizens complaint handling and overall transparency of SIAC institution has decreased in the last couple of years, thus hampering public trust.
Another important aspect of SIAC mandate is the implementation of the Integrity Testing and issuing reports on this mechanism. To date, the Integrity Testing has not been implemented and the police vetting process has stalled any development in this regard, Qirjazi highlighted.
Representatives of the international police assistance pointed out that SIAC currently is under-performing in terms of police control and that political independence remains a problem. The major issues are related to the specific areas of expertise that are not implemented, such as financial and ICT inspections. Also, one of the main challenges of this institution in its activity is the fact that SIAC staff has to control their former colleagues. In this regard, international best practices could be looked at in order to address this issue.
Regardless of these challenges, the representatives of SIAC expressed their continued efforts to detect and address police wrongdoings. The results of SIAC’s activity are hindered by the persistent culture of impunity in the subsequent prosecutorial and court proceedings.
External Oversight is the Weakest Link Towards Police Integrity
The consultation session on external oversight focused mainly on IDM’s recommendation of the adoption of a specific law on parliamentary oversight of the security sector institutions as it is a known practice in most of the Western Balkan countries. Although this is not an entirely new discussion for the Committee on National Security (CNS), this new law would serve to set clear procedures and responsibilities for the oversight mandate of this Committee.
A journalist pointed out that the activity of CNS has been scarce despite the many issues that have compromised police integrity and the former political leadership of MoI. In addition, the absence of the opposition in the parliamentary activity has led to an impasse of the checks and balances.
“Parliamentary committees need to refer to the independent institutions’ investigations and expertise in the realm of police integrity efforts as a basis of Parliament’s own oversight activity,” the representative of the Ombudsman emphasized.