By Constantinos Psillides
The House institutions committee yesterday postponed a discussion on the secret service KYP for 15 days, following a mix up.
A proposed bill aims at turning the secret service into an independent body, define its modus operandi and to install checks on whether its surveillance methods are lawful.
According to the MPs, the various government departments didn’t coordinate with each other prior to appearing before the committee, resulting in confusion regarding jurisdiction and authority over the actions of KYP.
One of the chief concerns was that the representatives gave conflicting answers as to whether the chief of police or the justice minister would have the authority to hire personnel for KYP. While KYP is mainly a police branch – with some military personnel- the proposed bill calls for the hiring of qualified civilians.
“The government should coordinate with itself before coming to us with a bill to vote on,” said main opposition party AKEL MP Aristos Damianou.
“It is known that KYP works for and answers to whoever is president. Suddenly the justice ministry wants to have a word as to who should work there. Last minute interventions like that will not be tolerated,” warned Damianou, adding that the government was given a 15 days extension to sort out the proposed bill.
The MPs additionally decided to cut the justice ministry provision from the proposed bill.
Following the House discussion, the presidential palace issued an announcement clarifying that according to the bill all hiring would be decided by the head of KYP and that final approval lay with the chief of police. “President Nicos Anastasiades is therefore in favor of the House amendment on the bill,” read the statement.
Neither the justice ministry nor Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou responded.
When it comes to rein in KYP’s surveillance and actions, the new bill foresees the establishment of a special committee staffed by three former judges appointed by the president who will examine the legality of KYP’s actions and any allegations of misconduct.
It also includes a provision for a limited number of political appointees: one director and a number of deputy directors.
The service will be divided into a number of sub-departments or directorates depending on the needs of the country.
Some of the issues likely to get their own directorate include: the protection of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone; hydrocarbons in general in the region; internal security; international relations; the Green Line, and military discipline.