HRA sent the letter on 21 October to the Supreme State Prosecutor Ivica Stanković involving 12 cases of human rights violations, which were neither investigated nor punished due to unprofessional performance of state prosecutors. All cases are publicly well known. Lack of investigation and punishment of responsible persons in these cases directly undermines the confidence in the existence of the rule of law in Montenegro and encourages further human rights violations.
HRA informed the Supreme State Prosecutor, who presides over the Prosecutorial Council, that HRA notified the Prosecutorial Council, chaired by the then Supreme State Prosecutor, Ranka Čarapić, about these cases in May 2012, requiring determination of responsibility of prosecutors. The Prosecutorial Council never responded to this letter in any way, nor did it take any actions to determine the liability of any of the competent prosecutors.
HRA has continuously been advocating for effective investigations of these cases, therefore it cannot be said that the competent Supreme State Prosecutors, Ranka Čarapić i.e. Veselin Vučković, who acted as the Supreme State Prosecutor with full authority were not informed of them. HRA recalls that only the procedure for access to required information lasted for two years, from May 2010 to April 2012. Out of twelve questions the State Prosecutor’s Office did not respond at all to three – regarding investigations on the alleged illegal secret surveillance of the Podgorica High Court judges, alleged torture of Ibrahim Čikić and other members of the Party of Democratic Action in 1994, and charges for abuse of persons accused for the operation “Eagle’s Flight”. Furthermore, it was not answered whether during the investigation on the attack on the journalist Tufik Softić, persons whom he indicated to the police for threatening him had ever been interrogated. The question whether the public allegations of the journalist Mladen Stojović on Montenegrin “football mafia” were connected with the attack on him, was not replied either. It is obvious from other replies that the prosecution did not take all actions within their competences. (For more details, please visit: https://www.hraction.org/wp-content/uploads/Saopstenje_povodom_odgovora_VDT-a.pdf and https://www.hraction.org/wp-content/uploads/Tabelarni_prikaz_12_pitanja.pdf).
12 cases of uninvestigated and unpunished human rights violations in which the prosecution acted inadequately:
1) Abuse of detainees by members of the special unit of the Ministry of Interior in the Spuž penitentiary in 2005;
2) Continuous threats against the Researcher of Human Rights Violations and member of the Civic Council for Control of the Police, Aleksandar Zeković, in 2007;
3) Allegations on torture of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) members published by one of its members Ibrahim Čikić in the book “Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine” in 2008;
4) Allegations on applications of illegal secret surveillance measures of the Podgorica Superior Court judges – the clue of the missing case-file;
5) Assassination of editor in chief of daily Dan, Duško Jovanović;
6) Assault on writer Jevrem Brković and murder of his bodyguard Srđan Vojičić;
7) Beating of journalist Tufik Softić;
8) Beating of journalist Mladen Stojović who spoke on TV B92 show “Insider” about activities of Montenegrin “football mafia”;
9) Allegations of veterinary inspector Mirjana Drašković regarding the high level corruption in issuing licenses for food import in Montenegro for which she was suspended from work for a year;
10) Beating of Aleksandar Pejanović in Podgorica police detention unit;
11) Allegations of abuse of persons detained during the police anti-terrorist operation “Eagles’ Flight”;
12) Inhuman and degrading treatment of protégés of PI Komanski most.
Besides the local public and the media, many of these cases attracted the attention of international public, for example the European Commission, the UN Committee Against Torture, the Committee against Torture of the Council of Europe, the U.S. Department of State, Amnesty International, Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, etc. The case of ineffective investigation of reports of abuse of prisoners in police action “Eagle Flight” is currently before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Although the Prosecutorial Council has the authority to impose a disciplinary sanction or even dismiss the state prosecutor, to date no such action had been taken before that body against a public prosecutor due to inefficient work in cases of violations of human rights – the above mentioned or any other. The prosecutor was competent to initiate proceedings for determining responsibility in respect of his deputies, i.e. High prosecutors in relation to Basic prosecutors, and the Supreme State Prosecutor in all cases. The Minister of Justice, who had a representative in the Prosecutorial Council, was authorized to initiate proceedings for determining responsibility of the Supreme State Prosecutor until the amendments to the law in September 2013 (the session of the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office is competent now).
Meanwhile, former heads of State Prosecutor’s Offices have been reappointed to their posts for a term of five years. Each head of the Prosecutor’s Office was obliged to initiate proceedings against a deputy who would perform its prosecutorial function incompetently, which none of them has ever done, even though these cases show the incompetence or unworthiness of some prosecutors to effectively conduct investigations in cases of human rights violations.
The justification of the State Prosecutor’s Office that in some cases the police has not acted upon the orders of the prosecution, which prevented them from conducting effective investigations, is no good excuse for the Prosecutor’s Office, because public prosecutors have always had mechanisms for “forcing” the police do their job, had they wanted to do so.
We expect Mr. Ivica Stankovic, the Supreme State Prosecutor and the President of the Prosecutorial Council, to initiate proceedings for determining liability of prosecutors responsible for ineffective investigations of human rights violations and thus begin the process of reform in the State Prosecutor’s Office of Montenegro.