Lithuania: intelligence law changes will not violate human rights, SSD chief says

  • 2020-01-08
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The Lithuanian president's proposed changes to the Law on Intelligence would not violate human rights, Darius Jauniskis, 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. There are attempts to develop that topic in the public but there's definitely no basis for that," the SSD chief told the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense on Wednesday.

The CNSD is today looking into the package of amendments to the Law on Intelligence registered by President Gitanas Nauseda's before Christmas. They include intelligence officers' rights to invite people for preventive conversations, check ID and carry out administrative detentions.

"In terms of preventive conversations, the number of such people ranges from ten to 15 a year, and that has absolutely no impact on a major part of the public. We are asking to have certain powers to be equal with the police and the army, which they already have, and security officers don’t for some reason," Jauniskis 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 risk or posing threat to Lithuania's national security or the state's interests".

A person would be subject to administrative liability for failure to come for such a conversation.

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 are suggesting establishing the institution of an intelligence ombudsman. They say their political group in the Seimas will back the presidential amendment package only if it includes their proposed amendments on the ombudsman's institution.

The amendments were registered by the president and drafted by intelligence institutions, including the State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defense, the bill's explanatory note states.

The president cited the need for such changed because of the swiftly changing security situation and new challenges in the face of hybrid threats.