The law allows certain investigative and operational actions during criminal proceedings and in situations where there is a pressing need to protect other legitimate interests, such as national security or protection against terrorism. Investigative and operational actions can, for example, be the seizure of electronic data in a computer or covert video surveillance.

The aim of these actions is to collect and examine private information about individuals for certain legitimate purposes. For example, this information may be used as evidence in criminal proceedings.

Legitimate aims

However, these actions must be carried out lawfully in order not to violate the human right to private life. Therefore, both investigative and operational actions must be prescribed by law and must serve legitimate purposes, such as:

  • the prevention, detection and prosecution of crime
  • the prevention of disorder and public safety
  • the protection of other persons
  • ensuring the security of the State against internal and external threats

The necessity and proportionality of these actions have to be examined as well in each particular case.

Investigative actions

Investigative actions can only be performed during criminal proceedings and are listed in the Criminal Procedure Law. They are divided into:

General investigative actions – will be carried out by informing you shortly before the performance of these actions. For example, the search and seizure of electronic data in a computer.

Special investigative actions – will be carried out without notification in order to secure the opportunity to collect the needed information. For example, collecting vital information from your communication via phone would not be effective in practice, if the police informed you of their intentions first.

Operational actions

Operational actions are a broader concept stipulated in the Investigatory Operations Law. They can be carried out during criminal proceedings, or not in relation to a particular criminal case. The performance of operational actions is usually covert and is only allowed if there are no other alternative means for protecting legitimate interests. For instance, state security services may be willing to collect information on persons suspected of spying and collecting confidential information about the State.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education