In the attached letter, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Filip Adžić, informed the Human Rights Action that he had signed the decisions on 5 April on the suspension of four police inspectors accused of extorting testimony using serious violence in mid-May last year. Obviously, the fifth inspector was suspended earlier, as he has been in custody since 8 February on charges of drug trafficking.
Minister Adžić thus fulfilled his legal duty, after nine months of refusing to do so.
As we explained earlier, his refusal cannot be justified by the alleged insufficient number of police inspectors in Montenegro. The fact that the inspectors were justifiably suspected of torturing Marko Boljević was established by the competent state prosecutor who indicted them, as well as the court chamber which confirmed the indictment. In a state governed by the rule of law, a minister would have nothing to do but to sign – in accordance with Article 176, paragraph 1, item 3 of the Law on Internal Affairs – the decision on the suspension of officers accused of a criminal offence committed at work, as soon as it was delivered to him in July 2022.
However, from Minister Adžić’s announcement that the inspectors were suspended on 5 April 2023 it follows that, even though suspended, they continued to exercise their official powers and investigate the murder of Vidak Vujović, which was resolved on 11 April. Both in the letter and earlier, on 13 April, in Petar Komnenić’s show “Načisto”, the Minister praised the above inspectors for solving that brutal murder. Consequently, there is now a serious question regarding the legality of the evidence they obtained while on suspension. In other words, there is a question of the extent of damage that was caused by the Minister’s months-long refusal to remove the accused inspectors from the service in a timely fashion.
Regretfully, this suspension would have never occurred had it not been for the efforts of the Human Rights Action to persevere in warning Minister Adžić that he is obliged to apply the law instead of openly doubting the correctness of both that law and the international standard for the prohibition of torture, which contains the same rule. The Minister called our warnings “pressure”, “a manhunt”, “an attempt to destroy institutions for the purpose of obtaining grants”, “influence aimed at stopping the fight against organised crime”, etc., thus placing us in the same group as the criminals.
We are extremely disappointed by the qualifications of Minister Adžić, who represents a civil party (URA) in power, and by the absence of any support for our efforts from that party, or criticism of his unlawful actions and brazen qualifications of our insistence on the implementation of laws and recommendations Montenegro was given by the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).
The worst thing is that, in all his speeches, the Minister showed disrespect for the human right to the absolute prohibition of torture, placing the accused police inspectors above the victims of police torture in every possible way. There is not an iota of doubt that Marko Boljević was a victim of an attempt to extort testimony at the Podgorica Security Centre on 25 May 2020. We expect that the criminal proceedings against the five accused inspectors and the investigation of their superiors will show who was responsible for all the undeserved injuries and suffering Mr. Boljević suffered while in the custody of police officers.
The Minister of Internal Affairs of a democratic state governed by the rule of law and on the way to the European Union was obliged to respect the documents confirming that Boljević was tortured in the Podgorica Security Centre, and to make every effort to determine the responsibility of the police for those actions and the diversion of the investigation from the real perpetrators to explosives placed on the “Grand” bar and the house of Duško Golubović, instead of humiliating the victim of torture by openly defending the accused police officers. Moreover, by favouring said officers compared to more than 1,300 other Montenegrin inspectors who were not accused of ill-treating citizens, Minister Adžić sent a discouraging message to all those who undoubtedly work in compliance with the law.
Tea Gorjanc Prelević
executive director of the Human Rights Action