By Born, Hans Born, Marina Caparini

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The ombudsman is an independent official who investigates on behalf of the complainant, usually focusing on procedural and administrative failings rather than legal matters, and who usually ends with a recommendation to resolve the problem rather than a binding remedy (Born and Leigh, 2005, p. 105). Another type of independent oversight body is the national audit office, which is independent of the three branches of government in many countries but reports to parliament. An effective audit office is responsible not only for financial audits – auditing the accounts of all public agencies to ensure that expenditures were in compliance with law, but also performance audits of specific project, to determine that funds were spent in an effective and efficient manner (Born and Leigh, 2005, pp.

Nevertheless, the values and norms which are fundamental to democratic systems require that intelligence agencies are accountable and subject to internal control and external oversight. The degrees to which these are achievable in practice remain moot, and subject to considerable variety in interpretation and Controlling and Overseeing Intelligence Services in Democratic States 23 implementation, but the principles must be upheld and enshrined as core values in any society that considers itself a liberal democracy.

When supporting a repressive regime through ‘political policing’, these services are frequently involved in human rights abuses, pervasive surveillance and harassment of citizens, extra-legal detention, torture, and extralegal executions. How should new democracies deal with those who had committed human rights abuses under the prior regime, while still enabling the service to fulfil its function of providing security intelligence? This may require dismantling the intelligence agency in question, yet at the same time the new regime will need to protect its legitimate security interests.

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