Parliamentary, Expert, Civilian and Judicial Oversight
SOA's work is subject to constant oversight in accordance with democratic practice. There are three levels of oversight in Croatia. Other than parliamentary and expert oversight, there is also civilian oversight of SOA activities which is not a common case in world practice.
Taking also into account that the Supreme Court must give permission on measures that temporarily limit some human rights and freedoms, a fourth, so-called judicial level of oversight of SOA can be spoken of and is carried out by the highest judicial instance in the country.
Oversight of SOA is a component of accepted standards in day to day activities of which there are two dimensions. On the one hand, there is institutional and regulated oversight and on the other lawfulness and ethics of SOA activities are secured by constant promotion of professional integrity in employees, especially of its leaders. Such employees will in their everyday work accept legal and democratic measures and standards in their professional calling. Such professionalism is promoted at all levels by which we further strengthen our position as an institution which is in harmony with its role in democratic society.
Illustration of oversight over SOA activities
At the expert level oversight is conducted by the UVNS, Croatia’s Parliament at the parliamentary level either directly or indirectly via the parliamentary Committee for Internal Policy and National Security, and at the civic level by the Council for Civilian Oversight of Security-Intelligence Agencies.
In establishing parliamentary oversight the Croatian parliament may request:
SOA's report on activities and measures being conducted,
SOA's report on covert measures of information collection or on covert measures of information collection towards certain individuals,
a Supreme Court president’s report on covert measures of information collection or covert measures of information collection on certain individuals,
a report on whether SOA collects information regarding parliamentary representatives or persons who are members of their family household.
Expert oversight over agency work is conducted by UVNS which in that light:
monitors and supervises legality of work,
monitors and supervises the attaining of written goals and scope,
monitors and supervises effectiveness and purpose of work,
monitors use of financial resources,
monitors coordination and cooperation of security-intelligence agencies with responsible services of other countries.
When conducting oversight, UVNS and the parliamentary committee have access to reports and other SOA documents. In order to confirm certain facts they may also conduct interviews with the director and employees. When violations of the Constitution or laws are confirmed during oversight, the UVNS head is required to immediately undertake measures to remove irregularities and inform the Croatian president and Prime Minister on the same, and also the Parliament Speaker if the oversight was performed at the request of Croatian Parliament.
UVNS continuously conducts regular oversight over all SOA organizational units at its central office and branches.
Civilian oversight over SOA activities is conducted by the Council for Civilian Oversight of Security-Intelligence Agencies which:
monitors the legality of SOA work,
monitors measures applied in covert collection of information which may limit human rights and basic freedoms defined in the constitution,
sends collected findings and data to the National Security Council, Parliament Speaker, Committee president and to the SOA Director.
The Council has access to SOA documents, conducts interviews with the SOA Director and employees when necessary for confirming certain facts which may determine legality of actions. The Council takes action according to the program brought by the Committee, based on civic request or from a state body or legal entity. The report on the conducted oversight is forwarded to the body which made the request and insofar as irregularities are confirmed they are reported to the Croatian president, PM and Parliament Speaker, and also to the State Attorney.
Other than the mentioned external oversight, within SOA itself there also exists a unit for internal oversight, responsible for monitoring the legality of activities conducted by organizational units and employees of SOA, for protecting document secrecy and counter-intelligence protection. Internal oversight cooperates with parliamentary and civic bodies responsible for the monitoring of its activities.
The purpose of internal oversight is prevention of irregular or illegal activities of employees and eliminating risks from potential misuse of powers, namely, misuse of collected information or material resources. Other than prevention, internal oversight conducts investigation after suspicion or after receiving information that a certain SOA employee has conducted an illegal activity. Internal oversight monitors and supervises the legality of activities of organizational units and employees.
Special attention is given to applying regulations regarding employee activities outside of work hours and which are not connected with professional tasks or if there is suspicion that such activities may present a conflict of interest or barrier in conducting their regular tasks and/or harm SOA’s reputation.
Polygraph testing of SOA employees is also conducted within the framework of monitoring the legality of activities and for protection of information.