BELGRADE – Society loses if the implementation of the controlling role of the Parliament towards the executive authority is lacking.

There is no parliamentary control of the police due to the lack of a democratic culture and the fact that the Parliament became an administrative body implementing the Government’s decisions, it was assessed at the roundtable organized by Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) on June 20, 2018 in Belgrade.

Parliamentary control of the police is weak, although a large number of opposition parties entered the Parliament two years ago and the legal framework has been improved by adopting a new Law on Police, which gave MPs eight ways for police control and oversight, assessed BCSP researcher Saša Djordjević.

“MPs are enabled to oversee the conduct of special investigative techniques, such as wiretapping. However, in practice more than 40 laws in the area of security were adopted without proper debate, putting a large number of draft laws into one agenda item. The work of the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee is focused on the automatic adoption of quarterly reports by the Ministry of Interior. For three years in a row, reports of independent control institutions have not been considered,” Djordjević said.

BCSP researcher Vladimir Erceg stressed that the situation can be improved if the competencies of the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee are specified by the rules of procedure, consideration of reports by independent control institutions begins, the practice of asking parliamentary questions is improved and the reporting of the Ministry of Interior to Parliament is enhanced.

“Board members should ask MoI to analyze trends of the most important police results in the fight against corruption or traffic safety, showing how the situation changed over the past five to ten years, not only in relation to the same quarter of the previous year. It is also important to analyze how the recommendations of the Internal Audit Department are carried out, which takes care that the MoI is doing well financially,” explained Erceg.

The situation is not different when looking at the role of the entire Parliament in controlling the executive authority, not the only police. Everything related to oversight and executive authority control is falling, and the primary reason is lack of democratic culture, underlined Pavle Dimitrijević from CRTA (Centre for Research, Transparency and Accountability).

“We cannot say that the Parliament performs a supervisory role. In this convention, 293 laws were passed, while 15 out of 21 completely new draft laws were adopted in an accelerated procedure. These are areas that have not been regulated so far and laws have been adopted with as little discussion as possible. At the moment, the opposition representative presides over only one committee, while there were only 25 public hearings, and now only seven. Without maturing of the political culture, we will not be able to go ahead,” said Dimitrijević.

The discussion included journalists, representatives of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, Members of Parliament and civil society.

Radoje Gvozdenović from the Commissioner’s Office confirmed that in the plenary session of the Parliament, the last Commissioner’s report considered was from 2013, although it is a legal obligation, and the topic often was the work of the police.

“It can be concluded that implementation of the controlling role of the Parliament towards the executive authority and the implementation of the Commissioner’s recommendations is lacking. Society loses on it. In that report, there really are facts which the Parliament should know and make conclusions about, especially considering that complaints to the Commissioner due to the failure of the Ministry of Interior make up 25.6 percent of all complaints filed,” Gvozdenović said.

MP Radoslav Milojičić agreed that there is no parliamentary control of the executive authority. He recommended that the situation could be rectified at the technical level if the order of the parliamentary questions changes, and if the chairperson of Parliament committees come from the opposition parties, as it was before.

“Parliamentary questions should first be set by the largest opposition party, and then from the ruling coalition, as it was until 2012. We have also sent a proposal to appoint the chairperson of the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee from the opposition so that we can implement any initiatives in practice,” Milojičić recommended.

Belgrade Centre for Security Policy organized a roundtable aimed at sharpening recommendations that should strengthen parliamentary control and oversight of the police, which will be an integral part of the Roadmap for strengthening the integrity of the police in the Western Balkans, intended for the international community, and above all the European Union, Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

TAGS: AdvocacyBelgradeExternal OversightParliamentSerbia