27.4.2015. Report from the CEAS closing conference "Strengthening public private cooperation in the field of security for more efficient joint results"
The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies in Belgrade (CEAS), in cooperation with the Association for Private Security of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (APS SCC) held the closing conference titled „Strengthening public private cooperation in the field of security for more efficient joint results“ within the project „Regulated Private Security Sector - Safer life of citizens“, supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade.
Speakers at the conference included Jelena Milić, CEAS Director, Irina Rizmal, CEAS Researcher, Rade Krunić, Assistant Chief at the Police Directorate, Nataša Ignjatović from the Police Directorate, Dragiša Jovanović, President of the Commission for Public-Private Partnership in the Serbian Security Sector and Đorđe Vučinić, President of the Association for Private Security of the SCC.
The conference was attended by, among others, representatives of the Office of the Council on National Security and Classified Information Protection, Office of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, Ministry of Defense, representatives of the diplomatic core, relevant civil society organizations, the Gendarmerie trade union, professors from the Faculty of Security, representatives of the industry and members of the Association for PS of the SCC.
The opening speech was delivered by Jelena Milić, CEAS Director, who in her opening remarks thanked all relevant actors on their support in implementation of the project Regulated Private Security Sector – Safer life of citizens, especially the Association for Private Security of the SCC, the Commission for Public-Private Partnership in the Serbian Security Sector, as well as the Office(s) of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection and the Ombudsman, on continuous consultations, contributions and support during activities related to this and other CEAS projects.
In her presentation, Jelena Milić further stressed that what we are witnessing is the privatization of the security sector in Serbia, especially having in mind the affairs that rocked the sector over the past months. This is particularly evident, as she said, in the case of attacks on the Ombudsman, which clearly demonstrate the chaotic state and anarchy in the security sector. She also reminded that some time ago CEAS published the study „The Missing Link“ – which chronologically lists reforms in the security sector from the democratic reforms onwards, as well as the current state of affairs in the security sector, and gives recommendations to the Serbian Government and the EU how to utilize its mechanisms to overcome the identified deficiencies.
The publication of this study was supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States of America. The Missing Link was also very successfully presented in Brussels.
Rade Krunić from the Police Directorate pointed out that private and public security must work as partners. The Police, in his words, cannot fully protect citizens, everyone needs to also think about their own security, and the Ministry of Interior recognizes private security as an essential partner in this task. He emphasized that private security poses as a significant factor of general security in all contemporary societies, and that we are witnessing growth and strengthening of this industry in our country. The MoI has, naturally, Krunić said, assumed a role of supervisory authority over private security, but also that the Law on Private Security provides for an Expert Council to be formed, as a mechanism of strengthening public private partnership established through the Commission for Public-Private Partnership in the Serbian security sector.
Krunić also announced amendments to the Law on Private Security that are to take place soon in terms of the deadlines for application – a proposal has been delivered to the Government and is expected in parliamentary procedure in the near future.
Nataša Ignjatović, from the Police Directorate, reminded which bylaws have been adopted and which still remain, including the Regulation on compulsory secured objects, Regulation on legitimation, and so forth. She also said that so far 29 legal entities obtained a license to provide training and that only four of these already started working.
Irina Rizmal, CEAS Researcher, highlighted that remaining concerns in the process of implementation of the Law on Private Security, pointing out in particular:
The CEAS position that provision of private security services is automatically an activity incompatible with active service in the Ministry of Interior, having in mind that such a state of affairs leads to a direct conflict of interest given the fact that the MoI is an oversight body over the branch of private security, in accordance with the Law on Private Security.
The Law on Private Security provides for the formation of the Expert Council of the Minister for the improvement of private security and public-private partnership in the field of security, designed as a key place for cooperation of the MoI with association of legal entities and entrepreneurs in the field of private security, where possibilities for joint monitoring of this field would be developed, including exchange of observations, information and conclusions in order to create conditions for its improvement.
The issue of public procurement of private security sector services has both economic and security implications. We still have a situation in which contracts are often awarded to the bidder offering the lowest price. It is necessary to convince those seeking services that tenders for private security services should be announced with a criteria of an economically most favorable offer, which means that they would have to clearly decide what quality of security they expect and for what price.
The process of public hearings on the Draft Law on Police is completed. CEAS now appeals to the MoI to, in case the issue of incompatible activities is not clearly defined within the Law itself, in the shortest possible time – without waiting for the expiry of the legal deadline – adopt the Regulation on incompatible activities which would regulate this field in order to establish clear demarcation between public and private security for the benefits of all related stakeholders.
Also, with the conclusion that the issue of security vetting is regulated in the Draft Law on the Police quite well, CEAS points to the fact that the issue of security vetting carried out for natural persons (non-legal entities) – in this case, for the future, licensed private security officers – is still relatively unclear. During the course of the public hearings, the CEAS team failed to obtain a concrete answer to the question what will be the level of security vetting carried out for private security officers, whether they will sign a statement of consent prior to the commencement of the procedure of security vetting, or what are the procedures for other legal and natural persons that are not Police officers or employed in other state institutions, for whom procedures are prescribed in the Draft Law. In order to avoid potential abuse of legal ambiguities, we urge to have this matter clearly regulated within the Law itself, or to leave space for adoption of a specific bylaw that would more closely regulate the procedures for carrying out security vetting for natural persons.
It is important to emphasize that there are many ongoing parallel processes concerning the security sector – the work around Chapters 23 and 24 for negotiation with the European Union which include the topics discussed in a wider context, the recently adopted new Law on Weapons and Ammunition, the expected adoption of the new Law on the Police, as well as the announced amendments to the Law on Private Security – concluded Irina Rizmal.
Dragiša Jovanović from the Commission for Public-Private Partnership in the security sector thanked civil society for highlighting the importance of regulating the private security sector. As he pointed out, the engagement and activities of the non-governmental sector in the media, and the transparent opening of delicate questions has largely contributed to many faster and better solutions.
He addressed the process of training and licensing as the most important motor of implementation of adopted regulations and urged to have it simplified as much as possible – to the limits of preserving the quality of training – in order to have it successfully completed and enable professionalization of this branch – which is, in his words, probably the most important goal for all relevant actors.
Đorđe Vučinić from the Association for Private Security of the SCC highlighted that the state should use the willingness of the private sector to have public-private partnership strengthened. Since 2011, when public-private cooperation in the security sector was established through a Memorandum, there were no visible joint solutions, to date. As he pointed out, private security is an equal factor of security, as stated in the National Security Strategy, and therefore the MoI should not consider this branch as a junior partner. He pointed out that a set of priorities should be defined and jointly assume a process of implementation because, as he said, while mechanisms of cooperation and balance of interests are sought, the branch of private security is diminishing financially.
A discussion followed the opening remarks, primarily focusing on the problems that companies will face once the process of training and licensing actively commences. Questions regarding legal protection of the private security officers were raised, as well as the definition of auxiliary police provided in the Draft Law on the Police. The profession believes that private security should undoubtedly be considered within this composition and that the Law should clearly define this.
Finally, the panelists concluded that this form of debates and discussions is efficient and constructive and called upon all participants to engage in every way possible in the efforts of implementing regulations on private security.
Jelena Milić invited all interested parties to send their suggestions and comments to CEAS via email and informed them that these will form an integral part of the Study CEAS will soon publish, encompassing all our analysis in the field of private security to date.
She also announced the two upcoming events CEAS is organizing in May this year – a debate on the Law on Classified Information within the project supported by the National Endowment for Democracy from Washington (USA), and a round table on the topic of security vetting within the projects supported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), inviting all interested parties to joint CEAS at these.
Belgrade, April 27, 2015.