Following the recommendations of the Seimas Ombudsman, the discussion on strengthening the internal control of the State Security Department of Lithuania and improving the Law on Intelligence

7 February 2020

 

After a thorough investigation, the Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas drew the attention of the State Security Department (SSD) to the need to focus more on protection of human rights. The Seimas Ombudsman acknowledged that the gaps left in the regulation of intelligence pose a particularly high risk of negatively affecting human rights, and therefore it is important to strengthen control over officials. The Seimas Ombudsman was happy to note that following the issued recommendations, the Seimas is planning to draft amendments to the law.

The Seimas Ombudsperson, in his investigation, also noted that the existing Immunity Board, established by the SSD, does not assess the performance of officials in terms of ensuring the protection of human rights. Moreover, during the investigation, the Seimas Ombudsman also noted that protection of persons’ rights to defence violated by the actions of intelligence officers, as provided for in the Law on Intelligence currently in force, is not enough.

“It is also important to note that decisions taken by officials to authorize the use of technical measures are not evaluated by independent competent authorities neither before nor after their adoption, thus creating a potential risk of abuse of power by officials. It is noteworthy that neither the previously applicable nor the current legal regulation establishes a clearly defined maximum term for the application of measures restricting the private life of individuals,” observes the Seimas Ombudsman.

 The Seimas Ombudsman also regretted that regulatory loopholes could lead to situations where measures interfering with the private life of an individual could last for an unreasonably long time. It should also be noted that the lack of regulation raises doubts as to whether, by (non)deleting the information collected about the applicant, the State is complying with its obligation to ensure effective protection of the rights of persons whose private conversations were controlled.

In the conclusions of the statement, the Seimas Ombudsman made a recommendation to the Director of the SSD to ensure that the control of the activities of officials includes the control of the observance of human rights protection standards in their activities. The Seimas Ombudsman recommends that the Prime Minister initiate the amendment of the current Law on Intelligence by setting maximum terms for the application of intelligence methods, conditions for the deletion of information collected, and the possibility for individuals to effectively defend their rights in court.

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