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2020.01.09 10:28

Greater state security powers no threat to human rights, intelligence chief says

BNS 2020.01.09 10:28

Amendments granting more powers to state security, allowing "preventative conversations," administrative detention and ID checks, would not violate human rights, Darius Jauniškis, head of the country's State Security Department, says.

"Those amendments have been under consideration for a long time, and I am deeply convinced that it definitely has nothing to do with some human rights violations," he told the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence on Wednesday. "There are attempts to develop that topic in the public but there's definitely no basis for that."

The committee is today looking into the package of amendments to the Law on Intelligence registered by President Gitanas Nausėda before Christmas.

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

"In terms of preventive conversations, the number of such people ranges from 10 to 15 a year, and that has absolutely no impact on a major part of the public," Jauniškis said.

"We are asking to have certain powers equal with the police and the army, which they already have, and security officers don’t for some reason," he added said.

Under the bill, people could be invited to have preventive conversations "upon receipt of information that a person might be related or linked to activity capable of increasing the risk or posing a threat to Lithuania's national security or the state's interests".

A person would be subject to administrative liability in case of a no-show.

Critics say the provision are too abstract and create conditions for abuse. They also call for stricter control of intelligence powers.

The opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats have suggested establishing an intelligence ombudsman as a precondition of their political group backing the amendments.

Nausėda's proposal was drafted by intelligence institutions, including the State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of Defence, the bill's explanatory note states.