News2020.01.08 10:00

Conservative MPs propose creating watchdog over Lithuania's intelligence services

Conservative members of the Committee on National Security and Defence in the Lithuanian parliament have proposed instituting an intelligence ombudsperson to ensure public accountability of state security services.

The proposal by the conservative leader Gabrielius Landsbergis and his colleagues from the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats comes after the president tabled a bill expanding the powers of intelligence institutions.

Read more: State security eyes more powers under Lithuanian president's proposals

“We agree that there's the need to bolster national security institutions in the face of growing hybrid threats from Russia, Belarus and China. But we also want the public to have confidence that additional powers and instruments will be used strictly for the intended purposes and will not allow violating democratic human rights and freedoms,” Landsbergis told BNS.

The conservative MPs will back the president's package of amendments only if it includes the ombudsperson, he said.

The conservative leader also noted that the parliament, Seimas, had already backed the establishment of such an institution when it endorsed a report by the Committee on National Security and Defence which investigated business influence on political processes several years ago.

Under the amendments to the Law on Intelligence, drafted by three conservative MPs, the intelligence ombudsperson would be an independence watchdog of intelligence institutions.

The office would monitor that intelligence institutions and officers comply with the law, evaluate the justification and legitimacy of intelligence methods, and process complaints from people investigated by the services.

The candidate for the office would be nominated by the Committee on National Security and Defence and the Seimas speaker and could serve no more than two consecutive five-year terms.

President Gitanas Nausėda registered the amendments to the Law on Intelligence on Crhistmas Eve.

His proposals have been met with criticism from some lawyers and lawmakers who said they might endanger human rights and distort the essence of intelligence.

Among other things, the proposed amendments would allow intelligence services to summon a person for a preventive conversation, check ID and carry out administrative detentions.

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