Following the Ombudsman’s recommendation to consider termination of prison sentence for B.Đ., who is in prison since 2005 for murdering a judge, because of his extremely poor health, the NGOs Association of Judges of Montenegro and Institute for the Rule of Law protested, arguing that the termination of prison sentence will “negatively impact development of consciousness of citizens that dissatisfaction with court decisions and work of judges should not be expressed with threats or attacks on holders of judicial authority” (Association of Judges) and that it will “send a bad message to society and encourage dissatisfied parties to attack judges” (Institute).
The stated concerns of mentioned associations could be justified if it were not for a case of immovable and terminally ill prisoner. HRA and Juventas are convinced that no one in the lawful act of mercy for a person in condition in which B.Đ. finds himself cannot possibly find any encouragement to commit criminal offenses. On the contrary, the decision on termination of prison sentence in this case would mean that we have become a society which understands that the purpose of punishment cannot be achieved by insisting on terminally ill and immobile persons spending last days of life in prison that also does not have a prison hospital.
HRA and Juventas remind that the Ombudsman’s recommendation was to terminate the prison sentence for a B.Đ. in accordance with Article 36, para. 3 of the Law on Execution of Prison Sentences, Fines and Security Measures, according to which “prisoner who is over 50 years of age and suffering from an acute illness or his chronic illness worsened, which threatens to death, can approve termination of a prison sentence for an indefinite period, previously obtained findings and opinion of a competent medical council.” This proposal is fully compliant with the recommendations of international bodies for protection of human rights. (1)
We emphasize that this is not a proposal for a pardon for a healthy man convicted for a murder, but a proposal to enable termination of prison sentence for terminally ill inmate of 77 years in order to spare him from spending the last days of his life in prison. This is a man who can no longer move any part of his body, receiving food only in liquid form and medical aid is constantly needed in this phase of his life.
HRA and Juventas activists visited B.Đ. several times in the past five years and witnessed that his physical condition became every time drastically worse.
The Ministry of Justice and Institute for execution of criminal sanctions are bound to provide to B.Đ. and any other prisoner in a situation similar to his, in accordance with the law and the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Council of Europe, continuous and specialized end-of-life care and permit termination of execution of his sentence on the basis of the opinion of the medical council.
According to information available to HRA and Juventas, the medical condition of B.Đ. became even worse since the Ombudsman issued his opinion on 9th May this year. We appeal to the administration of the PSEA and the Ministry of Justice to engage, if necessary, an emergency medical consulting team, in accordance with the law, and decide on the suspension of his sentence, bearing in mind the Ombudsman’s proposal.
HRA and Juventas strongly condemn the murder of judge Milorija Djukic-Pejovic in 2005 and deeply regret about it. We are committed to improving safety in court buildings, prosecutors offices and their surroundings, as it had been promised immediately the tragedy in 2005. We remind that the criminal offense of Preventing of officials in performing their duties, Attack on official person in performing their duties, Obstruction of Justice, Aggravated Murder – especially provided severe punishment for each type of attack on the judge or interference of judges in performing their duties.
For HRA Tea Gorjanc-Prelević, Executive Director
For Juventas Ivana Vujović, Executive Director
(1) Ombudsman referred on the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment on the basis international human rights treaties, as well as the standards of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which recommended termination of sentence in the case of terminally ill prisoners. In addition, termination of prison sentences in such cases it is recommended by the World Health Organization (Health in Prisons, A WHO Guide to the essentials in prison health, WHO Europe, 2007, p. 69, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (Handbook on prisoners with special needs, UNODC, 2009) and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers Recommendation R (98) 7 on the Ethical and Organisational Aspects of Health Care in Prison, Art. 51).