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2010 | 3(98) | 9-40

Article title

SUPERVISION OF SECRET SERVICES BY THE PRIME MINISTER AND WAYS OF ITS IMPLEMENTATION UNDER CURRENT LEGISLATION (Nadzor Prezesa Rady Ministrów nad sluzbami specjalnymi i sposoby jego realizacji w swietle obowiazujacego ustawodawstwa)


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In Poland, supervision of intelligence-security services (the Internal Security Agency, the Intelligence Agency (AW) and the Central Anticorruption Bureau) by the Prime Minister constitutes the long-lasting element of the 'system of the democratic control of the secret services'. As part of this system the supervision of these services by the Prime Minister includes two crucial spheres: assigning tasks to the services (i.e. programming them) and examining and adjusting their current activities. The regulations adopted in 1989-2006 have given the Prime Minister a dominant role in the system which could be roughly called a system of programming and oversight of secret services. Of vital importance in this respect are the provisions of the Act on the Council of Ministers and the Act on the Branches of Government, as well as other acts providing a basis for functioning of the services (the so-called competence acts). In accordance with these regulations, chiefs of civil secret services are in direct subordination to the Prime Minister, which is similar to hierarchical relation. On the other hand, the Prime Minister is vested with explicitly specified powers to examine and correct the functioning of the secret services. The powers of the Prime Minister to implement supervisory measures enable him not only to exert influence on these services in order to ensure legality of their actions and conformity with the principal directions of general state policy (verification supervision), but also to issue guidelines and orders to chiefs of the services (hierarchical supervision). Admittedly, they cannot concern the way of conduct or termination of official duties of secret service officers, but they may be used to indentify the area of interest and, even, to assign particular tasks to the services. As an authority responsible for the supervision of secret services, the Prime Minister has the right to demand information about the activities of these services, including access to classified materials concerning their operations. According to constitutional provisions the Prime Minister may 'delegate' substantial part of tasks relating to supervision of the secret services to a minister, a member of the Council of Ministers (the so-called task minister) In such case, a minister so delegated performs everyday supervision of the services and bears political responsibility for their proper functioning. Otherwise (if the Prime Minister has not appointed a member of government to deal with secret services), the task of supervising them remains in the domain of the head of government. The Prime Minister may entrust certain persons (secretaries or undersecretaries of state in his/her office) with selected tasks relating to such supervision. However, this does not result in automatic transfer of all powers (ensuing from the power of supervision) from the Prime Minister to those persons.





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  • Martin Bozek, Prywatna Wyzsza Szkola Businessu, Administracji i Technik Komputerowych w Warszawie, ul. Bobrowiecka 9, 00-728 Warszawa, Poland


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