Upon the latest case of police ill-treatment of Nemanja Roncevic, reported by the media today, Human Rights Action warns that this is already the 9th case of ill-treatment of citizens by state officers since the beginning of 2018. A total of 9 citizens reported they were abused since the beginning of the year – 8 by the officers of the Police Directorate and one by prison guard of the Institute for Execution of Criminal Sanctions (ZIKS).
In January and February the following cases were reported: beating of F.N. in front of the pub “Zeppelin” on January 27; three young men J.B, S.N. and M.D. in front of the pub “Bajica” on February 17; N.Š. in ZIKS on February 19; M.I. in Cetinje on February 20; M.S. in the coffee shop at the bus station in Plužine on February 21 and the last case of Nemanja Roncevic happened in the beginning of March.
The main actors in three cases have been members of the Intervention Unit (beating in front of the “Zeppelin”, “Bajica” and the last case in a police vehicle and in police detention unit known as “Betonjerka”).
HRA believes such development indicates an alarming situation in the Police Directorate. The job of police officers is to protect and not violate human rights in the most drastic way. All police officers are trained to suppress resistance with a minimum necessary use of force and to know that they should not respond to insults with the use of force.
One could already talk about the systematic use of abuse in police practice in the last ten years in Montenegro. Particularly drastic examples have been the encouragement of torture at the highest level in the case of beating of deceased Aleksandar Pejanovic in police detention in “Betonjerka” in 2008 (highlighted also by CPT in 2013), and in over twenty unresolved cases of police ill-treatment of citizens only during the October 2015 protest.
Although the head of the Intervention Unit has recently been suspended due to recent case of video recorded ill-treatment, the last case shows that this measure was obviously not sufficient for the members of that unit to act professionally. It is high time for the authorities in the Police Directorate to resign and give their place to those who will be able to fight the violation of human rights and restore trust in the police.
HRA also appeals that the state provides free legal aid for victims of torture by state officers. Until the Law on Free Legal Aid is changed, the Ministry of the Interior should pay from its budget legal fees to all victims of police torture.