Comparative analysis of intelligence oversight mechanisms in East African Community [EAC] states
Isaiah, Otieno Omburo
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National security intelligence agencies across East Africa have undergone many reforms from the period of decolonization, during and after the Cold War, the eras of state rebuilding in some of the post conflict states and in the current age of heightened counterterrorism campaigns. National security sector reforms in the East African Community (EAC) have largely been dependent on national socio-political circumstances. However, there are also several overarching factors which have informed national security intelligence reforms which include the drive towards making the agencies more accountable in the EAC. Despite various reforms, intelligence oversight mechanisms in the EAC are either partly or not being implemented at all. The EAC states have also undertaken several steps towards intelligence collaboration especially with the persistent threat of international terrorism. Consequently, the necessity for effective and legitimate intelligence collection among the states in such relationships has become a pertinent question in intelligence collaboration. Part of the bumpy ride towards opening up of national intelligence services for scrutiny in EAC is the perennial question of regime security especially in the postconflict states in the region. This study comparatively assesses different intelligence oversight regimes in the EAC states and attendant issues arising out various oversight mechanisms which are currently being implemented in the region. The study adopted a descriptive case study methodology exploiting qualitative primary and secondary data to evaluate intelligence oversight regimes in the region. The study examined universal intelligence oversight mechanisms and practices, the forms of the intelligence community in the EAC states and assessed the post-independent intelligence oversight mechanisms in the region. The study established that different EAC states have statutorily established executive, parliamentary and judicial oversight mechanisms for their national intelligence services. However, there are contextual differences in terms of the actual practice of intelligence oversight across the EAC. These differences in intelligence oversight regimes across the region are influenced by factors including political and intelligence cultures in the EAC states.