Doc. 8907

14 December 2000

Control of internal security services in Council of Europe member states

Recommendation 1402 (1999)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 733rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (7 December 2000)

The Committee of Ministers has taken note with interest of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1402 (1999) on Control of internal security services in Council of Europe member states. This Recommendation concerns very complex problems, given the diversity of national situations, the necessity to ensure a proper balance between the needs of the security of the democratic institutions and citizens and those of respect for individual rights and freedoms, and the balance between crime-fighting and the transparency of the state apparatus.

The Committee of Ministers recalls the substantial case law of the European Court of Human Rights in the protection of human rights with respect to the powers and responsibilities of state security services.

It also recalls its own Recommendations No. R (87) 15 regulating the use of personal data in the police sector and No. R (95) 4 on the protection of personal data in the area of telecommunication services, with particular reference to telephone services, which cover at least some of the subjects mentioned by the Assembly.

It also draws the Assembly's attention to the work of the Committee of Experts on Police Ethics and Problems of Policing (PC-PO) on the role of the "traditional" police in a democratic society governed by the rule of law.

The Committee of Ministers does not consider it appropriate to draw up a framework convention, as suggested by the Parliamentary Assembly. On the other hand, it feels nevertheless that, in view of past work on law enforcement agencies, the feasibility of drawing up guidelines on internal security services might be discussed, to complement usefully both the texts already in force and the work currently being conducted by the existing Committee of Experts on Police Ethics and Problems of Policing (PC-PO).

The Committee of Ministers has therefore decided to consider, under the 2001 Intergovernmental Programme of Activities, setting up a new committee of experts to be called the “Group of Specialists on Internal Security Services (PC-S-SEC)”, responsible for studying the role and responsibilities of internal security services with a view to preparing a report and, if appropriate, putting forward recommendations.

The Parliamentary Assembly will be informed on the completion of this work.