HRA finds the protest of support for the accused for torture by their colleagues, members of the Trade Union of the Institute for the Execution of Criminal Sanctions (ZIKS), inappropriate for several reasons.
Firstly, the protest is totally unacceptably supporting torture (“We must not allow the exercise of authority to be treated as TORTURE, that the establishment of order after rebellion is considered TORTURE, that any official action is under suspicion as ABUSE”), secondly, it shows disregard for court jurisdiction and procedural rules, and thirdly, it directly interferes with the trial, which is being obstructed already from the beginning.
What is particularly worrying is that it is state officers, employees of ZIKS – body within the Ministry of Justice – who are protesting in front of the court, those who should understand and respect both the jurisdiction of the court and the absolute ban on torture much better than other citizens. In this context, HRA reminds, in particular, the Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin and director of ZIKS Dragan Tomić that CPT in 2014 demanded from the “Montenegrin authorities at the highest level to deliver, at regular interval, a clear message that all forms of ill-treatment of detained persons whether at the time of apprehension, transportation or during questioning (including at the time of so-called “informative talks”) are illegal, unprofessional and will be sanctioned accordingly” (Report on CPT visit to Montenegro, 2014, para. 17).
Regarding the court proceeding in which the ZIKS Trade Union is supporting the defendants, we remind that after the incident in the ZIKS on 14 January 2015, in which nine inmates attacked the prison guards and caused grievous bodily harm to three of them, the guards carried out systematic torture against at least 13 prisoners. The Ombudsman found that 13 prisoners had been ill-treated, three of them tortured, one of them being hit as many as 46 times with blunt force! Ten prison guards were charged for torturing 11 prisoners and causing serious bodily injuries to at least 5. In another proceeding, two guards have already been convicted in the first instance for torturing one prisoner.
HRA recalls that the proceeding against the prisoners for attacking guards has been finalised within a year and nine months, while only the first instance proceeding against ten guards for torture and serious bodily injuries of prisoners has been delayed for two full years due to various manoeuvres of defendants. The trial was even postponed for participation of defendants in the Judicial Sports Games in Ohrid, although then as well as now all defendants needed to be suspended due to criminal proceedings against them, although then as well as now, but they were not. Now, just before the judgment, this trial is unfortunately again obstructed and in an organised manner by the ZIKS Trade Union.
Finally, public demonstrations of support of trade unions of police and prison officers to their colleagues accused of torture and grievous bodily harm, assures citizens and observers from international community that they will not be reporting such crimes in accordance with their legal obligations as state officers. Such behaviour of state officers supports impunity for torture in Montenegro and dangerously undermines efforts of all those who stand for human rights and membership of Montenegro in the European Union.