Supervision over the activities of the Internal Security Service

One of the traits of a democratic state based on the rule of law is civil control over security and police authorities which have the right to perform surveillance activities. Laws and departmental directives provide the mechanisms that ensure supervisory control over the legality of surveillance activities in order to safeguard the rights of persons subject to proceedings and prevent the commission of offences by law enforcement authorities.

As is often the case, one of the most complicated tasks in this regard is also finding a balance. As witnessed worldwide, lack of control will usually lead to misuse of power whereas excessive control and limiting of powers hinders law enforcement authorities from preventing and detecting criminal offences, resulting ultimately in diminished feelings of security among the population and decreased national security. Exercising civil control over criminal offenders is in its turn the responsibility of law enforcement agencies. There might be no ideal solution accepted by all parties but in Estonia the current supervisory system has functioned in quite a flexible, efficient and balanced way. No more proof is needed than to compare, for example, the overall crime and internal security situation today with that of the first half of the 1990s.