Are the policies, administration, and budgets of the intelligence services subject to effective and independent oversight?
Portugal score: 75/100
There is considerable and regular undue influence in the oversight of the intelligence service’s policies, administration, and budgets. It is likely its mandate results in limited power and resources to carry out the oversight.
A parliamentary committee or independent body (e.g., appointed by PM) is designated to scrutinise the intelligence service’s policies, administration, and budgets. It may occasionally be subject to undue influence from the executive or the military or its mandate is not always matched by the body’s powers and resources.
A parliamentary committee or independent body (e.g., appointed by PM) is designated to scrutinise the intelligence service’s policies, administration, and budgets. It functions without undue influence from the executive or the military. Its mandate is matched by the body’s powers and resources.
Intelligence services are subject to independent and partially effective oversight. The Portuguese Republic Intelligence System (PRIS) is overseen by the Oversight Council , while its data centres are overseen by the Data Oversight Council . Further, the High Council on Intelligence Affairs provides decision support to the prime minister, who presides over it . The Oversight Council’s members are elected by Parliament , and the most recent election required an agreement between the two largest parties in Parliament on pre-determined individuals . The body’s mandate includes monitoring operations  and inspective visits , which result in mandatory draft bi-annual reports to be presented to Parliament . Council funding is included in Parliament’s budget , but there is no evidence of such an operation in the last three parliamentary budgets made public [3, 4, 5]. There is no clear mandate on regular budgetary or policy oversight, and there is no publicly available evidence of oversight in these areas.
The Data Oversight Council’s members are designated by the attorney general; they then proceed to elect a president amongst members . The Data Oversight Council is funded by the Attorney General’s Office and is charged with surveillance over intelligence data management .
The High Council on Intelligence Affairs operates as a consultative body to the prime minister . There is evidence that some oversight is exerted, based on existing reports by the Oversight Council . However, recent allegations about the Oversight Council’s inability and unwillingness to verify information sent by the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Strategic Defence Intelligence Service (SDIS) prompted one MP  to question the body’s capacity. Furthermore, a recent report on metadata collection without Constitutional Court approval  led the Data Oversight Council to publicly approve collection without approval for national security reasons .
1. “Lei Orgânica n.º 4/2014, de 13/08 – Sistema de Informações da República Portuguesa, artigo 8, 1,” (Organic Law 4/2014, August 13th – Framework Law on the PRIS, Article 8, 1), 13 August 2014, accessed 2 September 2020, http://www.pgdlisboa.pt/leis/lei_mostra_articulado.php?artigo_id=764A0008&nid=764&tabela=leis&pagina=1&ficha=1&so_miolo=&nversao=#artigo.
2. “PS e PSD com consenso para fiscalização das “secretas”, informação criminal e Defesa,” (PS and PSD with consensus on oversight over intelligence), RTP Notícias, 3 March 2021, accessed 29 March 2021, https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/pais/ps-e-psd-com-consenso-para-fiscalizacao-das-secretas-informacao-criminal-e-defesa_n1301661.
3. “Orçamento 2020,” (Budget 2020), Assembleia da República, 15 January 2020, accessed 6 September 2020, https://www.parlamento.pt/GestaoAR/Documents/oar/OAR2020.pdf.
4. “Orçamento 2019,” (Budget 2019), Assembleia da República, 14 November 2018, accessed 6 September 2020, https://www.parlamento.pt/GestaoAR/Documents/oar/OAR2019.pdf.
5. “Orçamento 2018,” (Budget 2018), Assembleia da República, 19 October 2017, accessed 6 September 2020, https://www.parlamento.pt/GestaoAR/Documents/oar/OAR2018.pdf.
6. “Documentos,” (Documents, Oversight Committee on PRIS Website), Conselho de Fiscalização do SIRP, accessed 2 September 2020, https://cfsirp.pt/documentos/.
7. “Revelações de ex-espião do SIS levam PCP a confrontar conselho de fiscalização no Parlamento,” (Former SIS spy revelations drive PCP to confront oversight council in parliament), Observador, 3 December 2019, accessed 6 September 2020, https://observador.pt/2019/12/03/revelacoes-de-ex-espiao-do-sis-levam-pcp-a-confrontar-conselho-de-fiscalizacao-no-parlamento/.
8. Cátia Bruno, “Secretas consultam dados das comunicações dos portugueses, mesmo sem decisão final do Constitucional,” (Intelligence services check communications data by Portuguese people even without final decision by the Constitutional Court), Observador, 25 May 2019, accessed 6 September 2020, https://observador.pt/2019/05/25/secretas-consultam-dados-das-comunicacoes-dos-portugueses-mesmo-sem-decisao-final-do-constitucional/.
9. “Conselho defende adaptação das “secretas” às “exigências da segurança nacional, 3 de Dezembro 2019,” (Council defends adaptation of intelligence services to “national security demands”), Jornal de Notícias, 3 December 2019, accessed 6 September 2020, https://www.jn.pt/nacional/conselho-defende-adaptacao-das-secretas-as-exigencias-da-seguranca-nacional-11577642.html.
Portugal score: 50/100
The oversight function has little to no influence over the intelligence services.
The oversight function does not have regular access to classified information. It may meet less frequently than every 6 months.
The oversight function has access to classified information and meets at least every 6 months to review budget and expenditures, personnel issues, and policies of the intelligence services. Findings are rarely published.
The oversight function has access to classified information and meets at least every 6 months to review budget and expenditures, personnel issues, and policies of the intelligence services. Though meetings are held behind closed doors, a summary of findings is published.
The oversight function has access to classified information and meets at least every 2 months to review budget and expenditures, personnel issues, and policies of the intelligence services. Though meetings are held behind closed doors, a summary of findings is published.
There is evidence that the PRIS Oversight Council conducts extensive inspective activity , but there are no published reports on these activities. The PRIS Oversight Council is known to advocate publicly for increases in budget and personnel, as well as technological upgrades for intelligence services . As per Q21A, it has also advocated for continued metadata collection prior to Constitutional Court approval . Allegations of poor oversight have emerged recently . There is no evidence of Council members meeting every two months. Its 2019 Report states that 37 meeting minutes have been drafted , but these are not available publicly.
1. “Documentos,” (Documents, Oversight Committee on PRIS Website), Conselho de Fiscalização do SIRP, accessed 2 September 2020, https://cfsirp.pt/documentos/.
2. “Secretas” precisam de pessoal, defende Conselho de Fiscalização,” (Intelligence services need personnel, says Oversight Council), Observador, 16 February 2018, accessed 6 September 2020, https://observador.pt/2018/02/16/secretas-precisam-de-pessoal-defende-conselho-de-fiscalizacao/.
3. “Conselho defende adaptação das “secretas” às “exigências da segurança nacional, 3 de Dezembro 2019,” (Concil defends adaptation of intelligence services to “national security demands”), Jornal de Notícias, 3 December 2019 accessed 6 September 2020, https://www.jn.pt/nacional/conselho-defende-adaptacao-das-secretas-as-exigencias-da-seguranca-nacional-11577642.html.
4. Valentina Marcelino, “Espiões portugueses “têm elevados padrões intelectuais” e não atuam à margem da lei,” (Portuguese spies “have high intellectual standards” and do not act outside the law), Diário de Notícias, 21 November 2019, accessed 6 September 2020, https://www.dn.pt/poder/espioes-portugueses-tem-elevados-padroes-intelectuais-e-nao-atuam-a-margem-da-lei-11537808.html.
5. “Parecer Anual de 2019 do Consehlo de Fiscalização,” (Annual Report 2019), Assembleia da República, 2019, accessed 7 September 2020, https://cfsirp.pt/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Parecer-2019.pdf.
Compare scores by country
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|Country||21a. Independence||21b. Effectiveness|
|Albania||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Algeria||0 / 100||NA|
|Angola||0 / 100||NA|
|Argentina||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Armenia||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Australia||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Azerbaijan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Bahrain||0 / 100||NA|
|Bangladesh||0 / 100||NA|
|Belgium||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Botswana||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Brazil||75 / 100||0 / 100|
|Burkina Faso||50 / 100||NEI|
|Cameroon||0 / 100||NA|
|Canada||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Chile||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|China||0 / 100||NA|
|Colombia||NEI||50 / 100|
|Cote d'Ivoire||0 / 100||NA|
|Denmark||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Egypt||0 / 100||NA|
|Estonia||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Finland||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|France||50 / 100||75 / 100|
|Germany||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Ghana||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Greece||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Hungary||50 / 100||100 / 100|
|India||0 / 100||NA|
|Indonesia||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Iran||0 / 100||NA|
|Iraq||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Israel||50 / 100||100 / 100|
|Italy||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Japan||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Jordan||0 / 100||NA|
|Kenya||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kosovo||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Kuwait||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Latvia||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Lebanon||0 / 100||NA|
|Lithuania||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Malaysia||0 / 100||NA|
|Mali||0 / 100||NA|
|Mexico||0 / 100||50 / 100|
|Montenegro||50 / 100||75 / 100|
|Morocco||0 / 100||NA|
|Myanmar||0 / 100||NA|
|Netherlands||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|New Zealand||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Niger||0 / 100||NA|
|Nigeria||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|North Macedonia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Norway||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Oman||0 / 100||NA|
|Palestine||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Philippines||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Poland||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Portugal||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Qatar||0 / 100||NA|
|Russia||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Saudi Arabia||0 / 100||NA|
|Serbia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Singapore||0 / 100||NEI|
|South Africa||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|South Korea||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|South Sudan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Spain||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Sudan||0 / 100||NA|
|Sweden||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Switzerland||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Taiwan||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Thailand||0 / 100||NA|
|Tunisia||0 / 100||NA|
|Turkey||0 / 100||NA|
|Uganda||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Ukraine||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|United Arab Emirates||0 / 100||NA|
|United Kingdom||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|United States||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Venezuela||0 / 100||NA|
|Zimbabwe||0 / 100||NA|