28. června 2016 | News

Janusz Konieczny: Role GIBS v policejní reorganizaci

Monday Comment

The past month certainly did not contribute that much to the quest of strengthening our confidence in the promotion of rule in this State. There was no shortage, in that period, of heightened emotions, mutual retributions and escapes from the press. The absurdity of the atmosphere was amply illustrated by the proceedings of the Security Committee on 23 June, during which MPs spent two hours haggling over the agenda, only to reject the proceedings as offered and thereby actually kill the meeting. The month’s proceedings were patently devoid of sensible discussion, as attention focused upon political infighting. Surely, political disputes, when various politicos display various motivations leading to a show of strength, are of secondary importance. Conversely, key importance must be attached to professional debate and answers to particular questions even before starting a reorganization of any kind. Of paramount importance is the credibility of the General Inspectorate of Security Forces (GIBS) and its possible role in the restructuring bid.

Promoters of the swift yet well-concealed restructuring of the police force often argue that if the members of the police Department for Combating Organized Crime (ÚOOZ) or other subjects have information about crimes committed by the police, they should contact the GIBS. This sounds logical at first sight, because GIBS was the organization created to check such information. Its establishment was inspired by weighty persons, such as the former Minister of the Interior, Ivan Langer, and the effort was sanctioned by the cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek in 2009. However, here we come to a cardinal problem: if the independence of GIBS was demonstrably disrupted, one should not wonder why some are reluctant to provide information to that organization.

The hypothetical independence of GIBS has been commented upon by the country’s highest authority in this field, namely the Constitutional Court, which said in its finding on a specific case, in late May of 2016: “The Constitutional Court also ruled that GIBS was not independent and impartial in the process of investigation. The investigation and verification of its results were conducted by the same persons as in the case of the former Inspectorate of the Police, which was not an independent agent. Nor should it be overlooked that GIBS has recruited almost all members of the defunct police inspectorate. Although GIBS formally appears to be independent of the police, this formal independence does not yet guarantee independence in practice. Considering that GIBS is largely manned by former members of the police corps, it appears that its independence might be quite illusory, especially when the GIBS management consists of the former members of the police and its inspectorate. Practical independence of GIBS would be greatly enhanced by the involvement of persons, who were previously not members of the bodies investigated by GIBS at present.”[1]

Another valuable testimony was provided by the former elite investigator, Václav Láska, who confirmed in an interview to DVTV that GIBS was contracted at least concerning the affair of the former police president, Petr Lessy.[2] Václav Láska was Petr Lessy’s lawyer and knows the details of that case.

My suspicions concerning the credibility of GIBS date from the time I personally attended a meeting of the Government Council on Coordinating Struggle against Corruption on 9 June 2016. A GIBS official was very aggressive and indeed indignant when it came to the ÚOOZ and the verification of its work. My conclusion was that, plainly speaking, GIBS was out to kill the ÚOOZ. The roots of this hostility are subject to lengthy speculation, since the inner corridors of that organization are rather opaque. Logically, however, such aversion certainly does not add much to the GIBS’s reputation as an independent organization. This is corroborated by the fact that the former chief of GIBS was subsequently recruited by an academic institution led by Ivan Langer.

Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec really should not begin from the end, but from the start. At first it is necessary to diagnose the sore spots of the police, analyse where it hurts and outline variant solutions. The GIBS is doubtless a sore spot, and the same applies to information leaks, purposeful interventions, poor communication channels etc.

If the goal of the police restructuring effort was to make police work more efficient, core management functions would be brought to bear in the process, including planning, organization, staffing matters, force management and control.[3] Instead, however, this police reform actually defies standard academic procedures and we can see the supreme state prosecutor working on comments and suggestions without being previously briefed on the reform and actually getting down to work after the police reform was signed, sealed and delivered.

The situation is not hopeless, but it is high time to delay the restructuring bid until a professional debate is held, the accusations the police presidency is facing over a leak of information are dispelled, and the case, supervised by the High State Prosecution in Olomouc, which has information indicating the purpose of dissolving the ÚOOZ in connection with that reform, is resolved and the issue of in(dependence) of the GIBS is opened.

Janusz Konieczny - NFPK analyst