The Council for Oversight of the Security and Intelligence Agencies was established pursuant to the Republic of Croatia Security Services Act of 28 March 2002 with the basic aim of providing civilian oversight of the work of security services. The Decision on the Council for Oversight of Security Services of 7 May 2003 regulated those issues essential to the Council’s work not otherwise regulated by the aforementioned Act. Under the Republic of Croatia Security and Intelligence System Act (hereinafter: Act) of 17 may 2006, the Council’s name was changed to the Council for Civilian Oversight of Security and Intelligence Agencies (hereinafter: Council).
The Council consists of a chairperson and six members, all of whom are appointed by the Croatian Parliament. All Council members have to be Croatian citizens with university degrees (according to the Census of 2001, the total number of university graduates is 267,885), while at least one member must have a degree in law, one in political science and one in electrical engineering. Neither the chairperson nor members of the Council may be members of the top leadership of any political party.
The Council’s chairperson and members are appointed for a term of four years, after which they may be re-appointed.
The Council monitors the legality of the work of security agencies, monitors and oversees application of measures for confidential data gathering which limits constitutionally-guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms. Any findings and information thereon are submitted as a report to the National Security Council, the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee in charge of national security, and the directors of all security and intelligence agencies. The Council also provides information about methods on how citizens, governmental bodies and legal persons may file complaints on observed illegal or irregular procedures in the work of security and intelligence agencies, particularly in cases of violation of constitutionally-guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Council notifies complainants of a completed oversight. The Council’s response to complaints is limited exclusively to the comments specified in the complaint.
In the performance of the activities specified above, the Council may review the reports and other documents of security and intelligence agencies and conduct interviews with the heads and other officers of security and intelligence agencies when required to ascertain the facts crucial to assessing the legality of the work of these agencies. The Council reports to the Croatian President, the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Chief Public Prosecutor of the results of its oversight activities, and not less than once every six months the Council’s chairperson must submit a report on the Council’s work.
The Council’s chairperson and members are obliged to maintain the confidentiality of all data to which they become privy in the performance of the Council’s duties, and this obligation remains in effect even after they cease performing their duties. The Council’s chairperson and members are accountable to the Croatian Parliament for their work, while the parliamentary committee in charge of national security affairs is charged with oversight of the legality of the work of the Council’s chairperson and members.
On 27 April 2007, the Croatian Parliament approved the Decision on the Council for Oversight of Security and Intelligence Agencies (hereinafter: Decision) which defines: the method for nominating candidates for the Council’s chairperson and six members, the procedure to confirm proposals for their appointment, the rights and duties of the Council’s chairperson and members, the Council’s operating methods, the handling of the Council’s data and materials, administrative support for the Council and the finances, facilities, and equipment necessary for the Council’s work. Furthermore, the Decision specifies that the Council’s chairperson and members may not be members of the top leadership of political parties and that they may not engage in partisan or other political activities in the Council. The Council’s chairperson is charged with the implementation of the Council’s Program, as approved by the Croatian Parliament’s committee in charge of national security affairs. The Council operates under the aegis of the parliamentary committee in charge of national security affairs, but is independent in its work. The Council issues Standing Orders to govern its operations, which thoroughly specify all matters under its purview, the methods whereby it handles materials and information and storage and safeguarding thereof, the Council’s support staff and other matters not regulated by the Decision. The Council’s Standing Orders may not be adopted without prior approval obtained from the Committee.
On 23 may 2007, the Croatian Parliament’s Domestic Policy and National Security Committee published the public invitation to all legal entities and natural persons for the nomination of candidates in the official journal of the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian political daily Vjesnik and on the Croatian Parliament’s official web-site, pursuant to Article 3 of the Decision. A total of 16 candidates who met the criteria specified in the Act and Decision, responded to the invitation, and out of these five were members in the preceding term. The Domestic Policy and National Security Committee requested that all candidates undergo a full security clearance. After receiving a proposal from the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee and after deliberations in a plenary session, on 13 July 2007 the Croatian Parliament appointed the following individuals: Mile Ćulumović, Master of Electrical Engineering, Krunoslav Antoliš, Ph.D., Zoran Grgić, Master of Construction, Dražen Harasin, Ph.D., Sanja Sarnavka, M.A. in literature, Miroslav Šeparović, L.LB, and Nenada Vukman, M.A. in political science). The chairperson of the Committee on Domestic Policy and National Security convened the constitutive session, which was held on 18 July 2007.
However, pursuant to the decision made by the Croatian Parliament on 3 April 2009, Council member Miroslav Šeparović, LL B became a justice of the Constitutional Court, and in compliance with Article 10 of the Constitutuonal Act of the Constitutional Court, he could no longer hold any other public post or professional function, so on 6 April 2009 he field a request to be relived of his duties. The decision to formally relieve Miroslav Šeparović from his duty as Council member was made at the session of the Croation Parliament held on 3 July 2009. On 17 September 2009, the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee released a public call for nominations for appointment of a member of the Council from among the ranks of jurists, and at its forty-sixth session held on 26 May 2010 it made the draft decision on appointment of a member to the Council. However, since the Committee, at its forty-eighth session held on 17 June 2010, withdrew the draft decision on appointment which was made on 26 May 2010, on 30 June 2010 it once more released a public call for selection of a member of the Council from among the ranks of jurists. At its fifty-third session held on 23 September 2010, the Council made the draft decision on appointment of a member to the Council from among the ranks of jurists and submitted it to the Croatian Parliament. At its twentieth session held on 5 November 2010, the Croatian Parliament made the decision to appoint Ph. D. Nikola Mijatović, Professor, Faculty of law, University of Zagreb to the Security and Intelligence Agency Civilian Oversight Council.
Pursuant to Article 80 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and Article 110 (2) of the Republic of Croatia Security and Intelligence System Act ( as published in the official journal, Narodne novine, no. 79/06. 105/06 – correction), at its session held on 21 October 2011 the Croatian Parliament made Decision on Appointment of the Chair and Six Members to the Security and Intelligence Agency Civilian Oversight Council (Narodne novine, no. 121/11).
The follwing have been appointed to the Security and Intelligence Agency Civilian Oversight Council:
- to the post of chairman:
Prof. KRUNOSLAV ANTOLIŠ, Ph.D., chief of research at the High Policing School, Police Academy, Interior Ministry of the Republic of Croatia
- as members:
MILE ĆULUMOVIĆ, electrical engineer from Zagreb,
ZORAN GRGIĆ, mag. ing. mech. from Lipovac,
DRAŽEN HARASIN, Ph. D., lecturer at the Kinesiology Faculty in Zagreb,
SANJA SARNAVKA, professor of comparative literature from Zagreb,
Ph. D. NIKOLA MIJATOVIĆ, Professor, Faculty of law, University of Zagreb,
NENADA VUKMAN, political science specialist from Zagreb.
Besides the parliamentary, judicial and executive authorities, civil society also plays a crucial role in determining and implementing security policy and ensuring the legality of the work of the security sector. A number of non-governmental organizations and the media that work on security issues already function as a sort of control mechanism for the security sector. Over and above parliamentary oversight, the Croatian Parliament decided to institutionalize this sort of civilian oversight by forming the Council for Oversight of Security and Intelligence Agencies, which was established with the objective of “exercising civilian oversight of the operations of security and intelligence agencies”.
With this solution, the Republic of Croatia facilitates the participation of citizens in oversight of those components of the state system which are entitled to employ special measures and procedures for the needs of national security. The approach adopted by the Republic of Croatia in this field is a major democratic step forward in the development of parliamentary and civilian oversight.
The legal framework specifies civilian oversight tasks (under the authority of the Council), which are functionally different from the professional oversight conducted by the National Security Council’s Office, and each individual agency through their own internal oversight systems. According to regulations and based on its jurisdiction and duties, the Council only performs a portion of oversight of security and intelligence agencies and the legality of their operations.