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SIS name, laws that govern it, to change

The Interior Ministry prepares a draft bill on intelligence services that should change the name of the Slovak Information Service, SIS, to the Civil Intelligence Bureau, as well as some of its functions and ways of operating.

The Interior Ministry prepares a draft bill on intelligence services that should change the name of the Slovak Information Service, SIS, to the Civil Intelligence Bureau, as well as some of its functions and ways of operating.

“The proposal to change the name stems from expert groups that prepared the draft bill,” SIS head Ján Valko told the SITA newswire on February 5. “It should express more accurately that the currently SIS does and it should be more compatible with how partner organisations abroad are named.”

The proposal is being fine-tuned, according to the Interior Ministry, and in the upcoming weeks it should be filed for discussion and comments among other government ministries.

The government is preparing to change existing legislation to increase the powers of the prime minister, chairman of the special parliamentary committee for supervising Military Intelligence and member of the special committee for supervising the SIS, according to TASR newswire.

“The draft contains a paragraph allowing the prime minister to order ‘other tasks’ to a secret service during a ‘crisis situation’,” said Martina Fedor, a former defence minister and currently a Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-SDKÚ MP. “There’s no reference to any law to explain these terms, however. So it will be up to the arbitrary decisions of the people with this power.”

The legislation would also allow the prime minister to order secret-service protection for anybody, even if the person doesn’t provide their consent.

“Such strengthening of the position of the prime minister vis-a-vis the secret services represents the most significant power boost since [the fall of Communism in] 1989,” Fedor added.

Fedor also dislikes the planned change in name and in its description - from an intelligence service to a security service.

“I concur with the opinion of experts that intelligence services change their names after a change of regime in order to send out a signal about a change in their character,” Fedor said. “A change of name brings pointless financial costs. An intelligence service is no marketing toy, so the change of names must be well-based. I still haven’t heard any proper justification.”

Valko dismissed Fedor’s concerns. “The new legislative proposal stipulates intelligence protection of persons to be carried out only based on their consent,” Valko said.

Fedor told journalists after Valko’s briefing that he commented on the draft bill he had received from the intelligence service and that has been debated for 18 months already.

“I don’t know what version they have got, but I react to the version that was given to us as the official one,” Fedor said.

(Source: SITA, TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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