25.04.2013

Interior Minister Opposes Changes to Security Agency Statute

Justice Minister Hanno Pevkur recently ventured an opinion that the Internal Security Service (KaPo) could be a purely counterintelligence organization, leaving corruption investigation to the police, but Cabinet colleagues beg to differ.

Interior Minister Ken-Marti Vaher told uudised.err.ee today that the justice minister's idea, made in April 22 comments in which Pevkur represented his own personal view, was "out of place."

"It is out of place to talk of narrow police powers in corruption investigation," said Vaher. "It is the function of Internal Security Service to deal with corruption that jeopardizes national security, which is quite a narrow and specific field. But the rest of the powers are held by the Police and Border Guard Board. Thus there is no practical value in increasing the police's powers to investigate corruption."

"The current system has justified itself and there is no need to dismantle and rebuild it," he added.

Pevkur made his comments at an interpellation in Parliament on Monday. "I would envision strengthening the central crime investigation structure of the police; that is, give the police additional rights in this field or transfer corruption cases to the Police and Border Guard's crimes structure so that the Internal Security Service could focus on national security," he said.

Currently the ISS is responsible for investigating corruption among senior national officials as well as in cases in the country's six largest municipalities and cities by population.

The push for a change is not new. In 2009, the Justice Ministry also lobbied for a change in its crime policy development strategy, which extends to 2018.