Humza Yousaf has said a Bill at Westminster allowing undercover agents to break the law should have greater protections.
The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill (CHIS), aims to protect undercover operatives who deem it necessary to break the law while on operations through the use of criminal conduct authorisations (CCA).
However, human rights campaigners have said the legislation gives officers a “licence to kill”, a claim denied by the UK Government.
Due to the Bill legislating in devolved as well as reserved areas, the Scottish Parliament must vote on a legislative consent motion (LCM), although if the Bill does not gain the support of Holyrood it can still be passed.
In a letter to the Justice Committee, Mr Yousaf said he could not recommend the LCM be passed unless tighter safeguards are put in place.
An amendment tabled in the House of Lords by Lord Anderson would mean the Independent Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) would need to be made aware of any intention to break the law ahead of time.
However, the Justice Secretary has said the Bill must go further on oversight.
“I remain of the view that further safeguards are required before legislative consent can be recommended by me. My preference is for prior approval by a Judicial Commissioner at IPCO before a CCA can be granted,” he said.
“This arrangement would effectively provide independent judicial scrutiny of an application for a CCA before any activity takes place.
“It is also my view that additional protections around conduct that cannot be authorised should be included in the Bill.”
Mr Yousaf said engagement on his proposals with the UK Government had been “constructive”, but added it was “disappointing” they had not chosen to adopt them.
“Prior approval by a Judicial Commissioner would mitigate each of these concerns to a significant degree. I am therefore unable to recommend to the Scottish Parliament to consent to the Bill. I have made that clear to the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Minister for Security at the Home Office.”