The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecution (SPAK) and the Albanian General Prosecutor have come out against the government’s proposed changes to the law on Albanian state police that would grant the latter unchecked surveillance powers, and would force SPAK to report to the Minister of the Interior.
The bill drafted by the government would see the creation of an anti-crime committee headed by the Minister of the Interior and made up of the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Finance, the General Prosecutor, the head of SPAK, the head of the Albanian Intelligence Agency, the general director of the Albanian state police, the head of Albania’s anti-terror state agency, and the head of Albania’s anti-money laundering state agency.
In a report sent to the parliament, SPAK and the General Prosecutor have called the creation of such a committee under the Minister of the Interior “unconstitutional.” They pushed back against their participation in the committee, seeing as “the General Prosecutor and the head of SPAK are constitutionally foreseen as independent from the executive.”
Regarding the parts of the legislation that would allow the police to wiretap, track, photograph, and surveil citizens without a warrant from the prosecution office, SPAK deemed it a “serious” violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms. SPAK asserted that Albanian legislation clearly foresees which institutions decide on citizen surveillance and its uses.
The current legislation stipulates that wiretapping, audio and video recording, and listening in on telephone conversation may only take place with the authorization of a prosecution office. An authorization is only granted in cases which “based on available evidence, it is suspected that someone has committed a crime or is planning on committing a crime and this criminal activity cannot be uncovered or prevented in other ways.”
With regards to preventative surveillance, SPAK asserted that the head of the Special Appeals Court decides on such requests and there is no legitimate reason for the law to change.
Additionally, the report stresses that the proposal that would grant police investigative tracking powers stands in contradiction to the law, seeing as the prosecution office, not the police, is the institution that has the right to investigate. General Prosecutor Olsian Çela also opposed the surveillance proposals.
Under the new law, the government would have the power to surveil, record, follow, and intercept the communications of any person in Albania, including journalists, political opponents, and members of civil society, without a reason and without any supervision.