THE government is working on a bill to define the modus operandi of the secret service KYP and to install checks on whether its surveillance methods are lawful, the justice minister said yesterday.
Ionas Nicolaou, who attended a House Institutions Committee discussion on the secret service, said article 17 of the constitution outlined when surveillance was permitted.
A 45-year-old police sergeant from the secret service is currently suspended and under criminal and disciplinary investigation following the discovery in his home of surveillance files, reportedly tracking high-ranking politicians.
“I want to reassure everyone there is no reason to worry about their personal data or private life,” Nicolaou said.
He said the government was determined KYP would stick to its mandate as laid out in article 17 of the constitution.
Article 17 states that “every person has the right to respect for, and to the secrecy of, his correspondence and other communication if such other communication is made through means not prohibited by law.” The article, which was amended in 2010, also outlines exceptions, including investigations into felons, serious crimes and corruption. The attorney-general may ask the court to issue a warrant enabling surveillance on the grounds that it could prevent or shed light into serious crime, or for national security.
“We believe KYP’s modus operandi needs to be institutionalised in such a way that the necessary checks can be allowed,” Nicolaou said. He added independent bodies whose remit includes the protection of human rights should be able to audit KYP’s surveillance methods.