Improving Efficiency of the Ministry of Interior's Complaints Commission (HR0024)
Amend the Police Act Implementation indicators: Drafted proposal of amendments to the Police Act in the part of provisions of the Act regulating the work of the Complaints Commission of the Ministry of the Interior. Lead institutions: Government of Croatia, Ministry of the Interior Supporting institutions: None specified Start date: Not specified End date: 30 June 2015
IRM End of Term Status Summary
15. Improving Efficiency of the Ministry of Interior's Complaints Commission
15.1. Amend the Police Act
Implementation indicators: Drafted proposal of amendments to the Police Act in the part of provisions of the Act regulating the work of the Complaints Commission of the Ministry of the Interior.
Lead institutions: Government of Croatia, Ministry of the Interior
Supporting institutions: None specified
Start date: Not specified End date: June 2015
This commitment sought to strenghten the civil supervision over police work and to ensure greater efficiency of the Complaints Commission of the Ministry of Interior. The commitment, however, did not explicitly specify how civil supervision over police work would be improved or what revised role the Complaints Commission would have in this aspect.
The envisaged amendments to the Police Act are described in detail in the IRM midterm progress report. The IRM researcher concluded that the commitment was substantially completed, even though the implementation indicator, limited to amending the Police Act,[Note 78: Available at http://narodne-novine.nn.hr/clanci/sluzbeni/2015_03_33_678.html.] was fully implemented. This is because the actual application of the act never took place (the new commissions’ members were not appointed), so efficiency did not improve.
End of term: Substantial
There were no changes in the implementation of the act. The draft self-assessment report states that the Ministry of Interior expected more efficient functioning and control over police enforcement with the creation of several new complaints commissions, compared to the previous centralised Complaints Comission. However, the ministry stated[Note 79: See p. 79 of the draft self-assessment report: https://esavjetovanja.gov.hr/ECon/MainScreen?entityId=4011.] that the risks foreseen in the self-assessment progress report have been justified: stakeholders from the general public are not interested in participating in the commissions, making it effectively impossible to appoint commissioners.
Did it open government?
Civic participation: Did not change
Public accountability: Worsens
The purpose of the commitment was effective civil oversight over police enforcement in local police units instead of using the centralised Complaints Commission. However, this can only be achieved once all the commissioners are appointed. Since there is a lack of interested stakeholders who wish to work in the envisaged commissions, there is no increase in civic participation. In addition, the state of public accountability in police enforcement has worsened, since there are no commissions to hold it responsible.
Due to this, the ministry is proposing a return to the previous legal solution—the centralised Complaints Commission—but with more commissioners, each of whom would receive compensation for their work and be appointed by the Croatian Parliament.
Interviewed CSO stakeholders,[Note 80: Information commissioner event, 28 September 2016. See Methodological Note and http://www.pristupinfo.hr/en/povjerenik-za-etiku/. ] though, believe that a stronger public campaign to increase stakeholder interest in the commissions would be a better step forward and that the government should not abandon this attempt to decentralise public services and make them more accessible to every citizen.
The next action has not been drafted or released by the government in accordance with the OGP schedule. However, in the draft self-assessment report, the Ministry of Interior has expressed its intention to amend the existing Police Act, with the following provisions:
- Establishing a single Complaints Commission;
- Increasing the number of its members and providing compensation for their work;
- Making the Croatian Parliament the responsible body for appointing commission members, at the proposal of the Committee for Human Rights and National Minorities; and
- Issuing a public invitation for candidates, whose pledge would be submitted by CSOs, experts, and professional organisations, or by personal expression of interest.
The IRM researcher also recommends putting effort into realising the current decentralised system and following up on this commitment in the next action plan, especially regarding the openness and transparency of the commission’s work. This can be accomplished by publishing:
- Clear and accessible data on appointments; and
- Clear and accessible data on the work of the commissions (sessions, number and type of cases worked on, annual reports, etc.).
The implementation of this commitment would also benefit from a public campaign that would be aimed at stimulating participation and increasing the number of candidates for commission seats, as well as awareness raising regarding the functioning of the complaints commissions in general.