Participants of the Conference of the Parliamentary Committees for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services of the European Union Member States, Switzerland and Norway, having met at their 5th Conference,
held on 25th and 26th of May 2009, in Tallinn, and:
Aware that without internal and external security, the protection of individual rights and other democratic values can not be secured;
Recalling that in guaranteeing of national security and the use of secret intelligence measures the rule of law must be strictly respected and the interest of the State in protecting its national security must be balanced against the seriousness of the interference with the respective individuals’ rights;
Drawing the attention to the principle that the control of the security services cannot be merely administrative and the fact that judicial control at the initiative of persons concerned is of limited character;
Emphasising the principles arising from the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the guiding role of the decisions the European Court of Human Rights in developing standards for secret surveillance measures and control over the security services;
Aiming at promoting and ensuring common understanding of democratic principles
Declare the following:
1. An adequate legislative framework is primary, but not the only pre-requisite to achieve the standards of democratic control over security services.
2. The importance of national parliaments is not limited to approving legal regulations on which the legality and authority of security agencies are based. The ultimate legitimacy of security services is ensured through reliable, effective and well functioning oversight.
3. External oversight of the security services, which may be exercised either directly by a parliamentary committee or body accountable to parliament or by an independent official, e.g. ombudsman institution, has a specific role in creating and enhancing public confidence toward security services both at national and European level as well as mutual trust between security services of different states.
4. Taking into account the importance of the foreseeability of guarantees and protection of individual rights throughout Europe and in order to secure the public confidence at European level, there is a need for expressing common democratic values and harmonising the principles of secret surveillance measures and democratic oversight of security services and raising the public awareness of these practices.
5. The next conference will be held in the second half of 2010, in Brussels, hosted by the Belgian Senate. The proposal for the creation of a European centre of expertise for the parliamentary oversight of the intelligence and security services will be discussed at the sixth conference.
The Press Service of the Riigikogu