NGO Human Rights Action (HRA) in principle welcomes new activities of the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica in the investigation of police ill-treatment of citizens Branimir Vukčević and Momčilo Baranin in Podgorica Jewellers’ Street (“Zlatarska” street), and police torture of Milorad Martinović in Jovan Tomašević Street, following the decision of the Constitutional Court that in these cases prohibition of torture had been violated by lack of effective investigation in addition to actual torture acts.
However, HRA expects from the Supreme State Prosecutor to ensure that the investigation in these cases is carried out in accordance with European standards, as the Constitutional Court requested this from him in the Vukčević case. This especially bearing in mind that the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica, which is competent for the investigation, informed the Constitutional Court that in the investigation of police torture in the Jewellers’ Street they have already taken “all legal mechanisms” and suggested to the Court to reject HRA constitutional complaints as unfounded. Bearing in mind the previous failure of the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the view that they were not responsible for such a failure, it would not come as a surprise that actions now taken by the same people are not part of a serious plan, but only a formal response to the order of the Constitutional Court.
The first results from the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office are expected at the end of October, when the quarterly deadline for the execution of the decision of the Constitutional Court in the Vukčević – Jewelry Street case expires. The decision in the case of Milorad Martinović, which was adopted on 25th of July this year, has not yet been published in the Official Gazette. The deadlines for the implementation of the Constitutional Court’s decisions begin to run since the publication, so we expect the decision in the case of Martinović to be published soon.
The investigations of cases of police torture were a good opportunity for the state prosecution to show that it was not “one and the same” with the executive power and that it was ready to prosecute those responsible for crimes, regardless of the function they perform. However, although the state prosecution, after considerable and lenghty public pressure, accused two alleged perpetrators of torture against Martinović, who surrendered themselves, and the commander of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit for concealing other perpetrators,many other police officers were obviously responsible for the case of police torture on Podgorica streets on 14th and 24th October 2015.
The top of the Police Directorate in these cases is equally responsible for failing to carry out a serious investigation, as well as the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office, because it did not provide identification of responsible policemen, although those men communicated with the headquarters with the business system of communication and acted in organized actions, and not independently. The Police Directorate informed the Constitutional Court, as stated in the Vukčević decision, that “the service for recording the realized communications in the TETRA system of the Ministry of Interior is not in function and that the Directorate for Telecommunication and Electronic Technologies does not have records of the achieved communications in that system”. This fact in itself requires a special investigation and determination of liability for such a situation, if it indeed occurred, so we expect it to be covered by a new investigation. Both the Police Directorate and the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in the statements to the Constitutional Court announced that the perpetrators of torture could not be identified because they were masked and the Police Directorate emphasised that the recording of the TETRA communication system was not in function.
The concealment of those ready to beat citizens and violate human rights, who are still working in the Police Directorate, is inappropriate for state bodies in a democratic society. Therefore, the Supreme State Prosecutor in order to regain trust in that institution, should ensure the prosecution of not only direct perpetrators of torture, but all of them, regardless of their function in the Police Directorate, who to date contributed to the obstruction of the investigation in these cases and thus impeded justice.
BACKGROUND: After numerous complaints and letters to the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office on the need to conduct an effective investigation of police torture on Podgorica streets after the end of political protests on 24th of October 24 2015, HRA filed three constitutional complaints for Branimir Vukčević and Momčilo Baranin, who were victims of police torture in the Jewellers’ Street, and Milorad Martinović, who was severely beaten by at least 30 policemen in Jovan Tomasević street. In June 2017, the Constitutional Court found that the State Prosecutor’s Office did not provide an effective investigation in accordance with European standards in all three cases and ordered the prosecution, in the case of Jewellers’ street, to take “other appropriate measures and actions to enforce a fundamental, independent investigation, which should ensure the identification and prosecution of police officers of the Montenegrin Police Directorate – Special Anti-Terrorist Units, who are suspected of committing the criminal offense of abuse at the detriment of the applicant (…).”
Decisions of the Constitutional Court in the cases of Vukčević and Baranin are published and available at: https://www.hraction.org/?p=13185.