CSIS fares well in annual review
A review committee has found that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has acted in accordance with the law in carrying out its mandate to investigate threats to the security of Canada but noted some areas for improvement.
The 2015-2016 annual report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which provides an assessment of the performance of CSIS, was tabled Sept. 29 in Parliament.
SIRC is mandated by the CSIS Act to provide an annual assessment of the performance of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) through its three core functions: certifying the CSIS Director’s annual report to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, carrying out in-depth reviews of CSIS’s activities, and conducting investigations into complaints made against CSIS.
The director of CSIS, Michel Coulombe, issued the following statement regarding the SIRC report:
“I am pleased to note that SIRC found that the activities it reviewed this year did not constitute an unreasonable or unnecessary exercise of CSIS’ powers. CSIS fared well in the majority of SIRC’s reviews, especially their finding that all threat reduction measures approved to date complied with the CSIS Act, Ministerial Direction and operational policies.
“In relation to information sharing with foreign entities, SIRC also found that, in response to Ministerial Direction, CSIS acted quickly in implementing a sound information-sharing framework and in establishing an executive level committee charged with evaluating the use of information where there may be a risk of mistreatment. I am also pleased that in relation to a review of a CSIS foreign station, SIRC found that CSIS’s presence in that part of the world was seen as both welcome and necessary in relation to fulfilling our mandate on behalf of the Government of Canada.
“In terms of areas in which SIRC has indicated improvements are required, CSIS has accepted and acted on the vast majority of SIRC’s recommendations this year. On those areas where SIRC made recommendations, we have already implemented a number of measures, for example, strengthening certain decision-making processes, as well as accountability for our overseas operations. A policy framework recommended by SIRC in relation to the collection of datasets has also already been completed and is being implemented.
“SIRC’s ongoing reviews contribute to a culture of continual learning and improvement. We welcome the review process and believe it has helped make us a better organization.”
The SIRC report contains summaries of the nine reviews SIRC conducted for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 2016, on issues ranging from CSIS’s investigation into foreign fighters to its data exploitation activities, as well as foreign and domestic partnerships. The report also includes SIRC’s first examination of CSIS’s threat reduction activities, new powers which were given to CSIS under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. For greater transparency, the report also contains CSIS’s responses to SIRC’s recommendations.