Thursday, February 26, 2009

Statement by the Minister for Defence, Justice and Security to the National Assembly on the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security

source: Republic of Botswana (23/2/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 4 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


Mr. Speaker, it has become apparent that there is confusion, even amongst some Members of Parliament, regarding the nature of the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security. While such confusion may be understandable with respect to the members of the general public, the same cannot hold for members of this House.

Mr. Speaker, It is true that the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security is not a Parliamentary Committee set up and regulated by the Rules and Procedures under the Standing Orders of the National Assembly. To infer or suggest that in this way it has a diminished status is a serious misdirection. Parliament is not deprived of its ability to exercise oversight with regard to the activities of this Committee.

It is, in fact, a Committee comprising Members of Parliament as defined in the Intelligence and Security Services Act. It has the same privileges and immunities as set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

The members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. In accordance with Section 38 of the Act, the role of the Committee is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security.

The Act further provides that the Committee shall make an annual report of its functions, and that such reports will be laid before the National Assembly by the Minister responsible for Intelligence and Security.

Mr. Speaker, members of the Committee were chosen because they are Members of Parliament and thus owe their allegiance to Parliament.

I further wish to note that there is nothing in law that would preclude the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Security Committee from calling any entity, including this Parliamentary Committee, to provide any explanations which are within its mandate to seek.

It is also worth noting that this Committee was created and approved by Parliament. It is therefore, unjustifiable to make adverse inferences that there is anything untoward in either the creation or appointment of this Committee.

Contrary to statements made in this house that the Leader of Opposition was not consulted, its membership includes two members of the Leader of Opposition's own party. Mr. Speaker, this surely is a clear reflection that the necessary consultation was indeed done.

Mr. Speaker this House and the General Public can rest assured that the mechanism of oversight for the DIS is one of the best in the world. When in other jurisdictions such committees do not share information with the rest of the legislature, ours will. I thank you Mr. Speaker

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