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Tailor-made laws in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Law on the Security Information Agency (BIA) - Tailor-made laws in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Law on the Security Information Agency (BIA)

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Introduction

In 2018, amendments to the Law on the Security Information Agency (BIA) were adopted. The amendments, which define the powers of the agency’s director, increase his decision-making authority over agency personnel. Under the amendments, the BIA director has an exclusive right to decide on the employment, job organisation and professional training of BIA employees.

Country
Serbia
Sector
Public institutions

Description of the law

In 2018, amendments to the Law on the Security Information Agency (BIA) were adopted. The amendments, which define the powers of the agency’s director, increase his decision-making authority over agency personnel. Under the amendments, the BIA director has an exclusive right to decide on the employment, job organisation and professional training of BIA employees. The director decides directly on new appointments without the need for a public competition, as well as on agency members’ professional development and the programming and pass or fail of a professional exam. The law stipulates that the procedure, criteria and assessment of the annual performance evaluation of agency employees is regulated by an order issued by the director. The information contained in the order is deemed secret and treated in accordance with the law governing the confidentiality of information. The BIA director is appointed and dismissed by the government. Since May 2017, the BIA director has been Bratislav Gašić, a close associate of the Serbian President Vučić.

The government’s rationale for the 2018 amendments was to improve the employment and legal status of BIA employees and to align BIA legislation with legislation governing other public sector bodies. The amendments were sent to Parliament by urgent procedure on the grounds that otherwise BIA’s capacity to respond to security threats would be limited. However, the amendments were not adopted until eight months later.

Critics argue that the amendment’s goal was to legalise unilateral employment decisions by the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and expand its power by selecting suitable BIA personnel who would advance the party’s agenda. Other critics pointed to the unconstitutional nature of the law, especially in relation to security checks and data protection, and questioned the law’s alignment with EU legislation.