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The government’s crime-prevention strategy has widened the remit of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency to include crimes ranging from murder to juvenile delinquency.
The Kosovo Intelligence Agency, KIA, set up to deal with matters of national security, is expanding its remit to cover crime prevention.
The KIA will be tasked with preventing murders, assaults, traffic offences, illegal gambling, loan sharks and even juvenile delinquency.
The National Strategy on Crime Prevention for 2013- 2017, which the government adopted on January 30, lays out the agency’s new responsibilities.
While much remains unclear about how the KIA’s new duties will be work in practice, the crime prevention strategy suggests that the KIA will in future identify people who are thought to be at risk of committing crimes.
The new duties mark a departure from what intelligence services normally do in the rest of the world, Kole Krasniqi, a University of Pristina law professor, remarked.
“By modern standards, an intelligence service deals only with gathering, selecting and processing information and delivering it to the government,” Krasniqi said.
The 2008 Law on the Kosovo Intelligence Agency conceived of it as a guardian of national security and national interests.
While the law envisaged the KIA providing intelligence on certain criminal activities, it left the scope fairly narrow.
The law also makes it clear that the KIA is not a police agency. It cannot arrest people, use force or initiate criminal proceedings.
“Robbery, thefts, assaults, general danger to the public, juvenile delinquency and other issues are the sole responsibility of police,” Krasniqi noted.
“The KIA should not deal with discovery of thefts and similar acts. Intelligence services are obliged to offer that [criminal] intelligence through official channels if they encounter information that would destabilise law and order,” he continued.
The KIA does not appear to have a spokesperson, an email address or a phone number for public inquiries.
Albulena Haziri, secretary to the director of the KIA, Bashkim Smakaj, declined to respond to Balkan Insight regarding the agency’s new duties, citing national security concerns.
The Kosovo Police has its own intelligence operations.
A November 2012 EU report noted that the Kosovo Police that year had “achieved a single, centralised system of gathering, collating, analysing and disseminating intelligence data”.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which oversees the police, in a written response to Balkan Insight about the KIA’s role in traditional police matters, said the agency would “allow early access to collected information, which, in the majority of cases, makes possible the prevention of different criminal acts”.
The National Crime Prevention Strategy appears to mark yet another effort to place law enforcement under KIA auspices.
A law on wiretapping, proposed by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s government, would establish a clearing house for electronic surveillance within the KIA.
This single centre would administer wiretapping for both intelligence and law enforcement needs. This contradicts EU recommendations to separate those functions.
Parliament has yet to vote on the wiretapping law, however.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.