National security sector governance

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DEAR EDITOR, the Solomon Islands recognizes that security is fundamental for effective and sustainable development. There is a shift in the Solomon Islands to an emphasis on Human Security with governments’ emphasis on people centered development. Importantly, the Solomon Islands Government has implemented an integrated approach to security reform that includes government and the people.

I have sighted the below script from a Pacific Security Meeting that is of interest for public comments that I am quoting, for public in-put. Security is every bodies concern. The quotes;

Role of Key Stakeholders in Security Sector Oversight

The key stakeholders in the oversight of the security sector include the government, Parliament, Ombudsmen, media, civil society and the security sector itself through internal accountability mechanisms. Further illumination of the type of roles these institutions play is detailed below.

Executive – Government

Government is responsible for strategic security policy development. Strategic security policies should identify national priorities, the values underpinning the policy, the legal basis of the policy and the role of key actors. Government can ensure that this policy development process is participatory through engaging the public, Parliament, accountability institutions, civil society and the security sector in a process of dialogue and debate during its development. Further, to ensure the development and implementation of effective strategic security policy, national governments should ensure that they have adequate institutional capacity in terms of staff size, expertise and skill level. Government agencies can significantly influence the policy and practices of the security sector by virtue of their policy development, management, budgeting and auditing functions.

Parliament

Parliamentarians, via debates and the activities of their committees, are well placed to monitor the security sector. Overall, parliamentarians and their committees can ensure that the legal framework for security sector oversight is in place. Budget committees can scrutinise security sector budgets, auditor generals (if located within the parliament) can monitor expenditure, defence and security committees can scrutinise security policy and practices. In the monitoring process, parliamentarians and their committees can interact with other stakeholders to maximise the information available to them on security policies and practices. Such stakeholders include the ombudsman institution, auditor generals, civil society organisations and the media.

Ombudsman and or Leadership Code Commission (LCC)

In many countries, Ombudsman / LCC institutions are able to monitor the security sector by virtue of their role in investigating public complaints about human rights violations and corruption issues. Documenting and investigating complaints against the security sector can be a crucial function in transition and developing states as aggregated data and the results of investigations can be presented to parliament – as well as released to the media – to help ensure transparency and accountability in public security sector policies and practices.

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Judiciary

Independent judiciaries have a crucial role to play in ensuring security sector accountability. Security sector institutions are bound by civil and criminal law codes and prosecution of personnel who break the law is vital to ensuring transparency and accountability across the security sector. Many nations whose security sector remained – or remain – either as a whole or in part beyond the reach of judicial process have experienced problems in political management of the security sector. Fundamentally, security sector personnel should be governed by the same laws as fellow citizens to ensure that their actions in daily life as well as emergency situations are consistent with domestic law and the legal framework governing the investigative activities of law enforcement organisations.

Civil Society

Civil Society Organisations, via various feedback loops – campaigning, media, institutional and other official platforms – can guarantee that agencies providing security operate according to their mandate, do not abuse coercive force and become more effective through the consistent scrutiny of their policy and actions. Civil society’s role in oversight of the security sector expands citizen political participation and makes security policies more responsive as they are well placed to bring problems related to the provision of security by state agencies to their communities, to the attention of parliamentarians and the media. CSOs can also provide inputs on policies and practices directly to the security sector, not least through platforms such as community policing boards, and to government agencies.

The Media

Print and electronic media can facilitate security oversight by documenting key issues at local, regional and national levels. Moreover, the ability of the media to investigate and publicise potentially controversial issues is a key index of freedom of speech in any society. By highlighting security issues affecting citizens, the media helps ensure that government, Parliament, accountability institutions, civil society and the security sector have access to information that can ultimately help ensure the transparency and accountability of security policies and practices.

Security Sector Agencies

The security sector’s components – principally, the police, law enforcement agencies (including border guards) and intelligence agencies – can all ensure that their policy and practices are consistent with the need to provide public security and are consistent with the legal framework governing their activities. Principally, each agency can ensure that its own internal accountability mechanisms are strong enough to enforce regulations governing day-to-day conduct of personnel. Each agency can also work closely with its line ministry to ensure the consistency of policy and practices with the prioritised needs of citizens. Moreover, the security sector can also cooperate with Parliament and civil society to ensure that its priorities, policies and practices are clearly understood and are responsive to the needs of citizens.”end quotes.

 

Clyde Bosawani’o

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