As the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) concluded in the report on the last year’s visit of their delegation to Montenegro, which was published yesterday, despite the fact that it was repeatedly warned, Montenegro has not suppressed the culture of ill-treatment in the police because it has not effectively prosecuted and appropriately punished police officers who were responsible for it, including their chiefs, who must be held accountable for the actions of those they lead.
Therefore, if Montenegro wants to establish the rule of law and become worthy of membership in the European Union, its new Minister of the Interior, unlike all the previous ones, must not in any way support police torture and obstruction of justice through extortion of false testimony. Instead, the Minister should be a person who is ready and capable of eradicating this phenomenon by (among other things) suspending police officers against whom criminal proceedings have been initiated as a result of such actions, and by eliminating contact with citizens and the public for those whose responsibility is being investigated, in accordance with international standards of which the CPT warned Montenegro yet again.
Also, the new Supreme State Prosecutor must be a person who will instruct state prosecutors not to stop at investigating and prosecuting only the immediate perpetrators of torture, but their superiors as well, whenever it is obvious – as the CPT noted – that „the pattern is being repeated“ and that testimony is being extorted by the use of same methods: beatings, electric shocks, suffocation with plastic bags, death threats, etc., which the entire world was able to see in the photos that were published thanks to the decoding of the SKY application.
The new Director of the Police Administration must be willing and able to professionalise the police by appointing to management positions only experts who are in no way connected to ill-treatment and other unlawful activities, and by removing from the police ranks those who are.
Only such personnel changes can prevent Montenegro from being publicly embarrassed in the Council of Europe, and inevitably in the European Union, which is going to happen unless it urgently complies with the recommendations of the European Committee, as clearly warned on page 4 of the Report.
Also, the Human Rights Action is especially warning against the scandalous efforts of certain police inspectors to remove video surveillance from police premises, although in its latest report, as well as in the earlier ones, the CPT emphasised the importance of video surveillance for preventing ill-treatment, recommended that all the rooms in which police officers may conduct interrogations be covered by video surveillance, and expressed concern about the loss of footage from the rooms in which it was reported that ill-treatment by the police has taken place. We remind that the Ministry of Justice (under Minister Marko Kovač) has unfortunately rejected HRA’s proposal to have the Criminal Procedure Code prescribe mandatory recording of conversations conducted with citizens, suspects and witnesses in the premises of the police and the state prosecutor’s offices, despite the recommendations of the Committee against Torture and the CPT.
Finally, we would like to point out that in the last Report – as well as in all the previous ones since 2004, i.e. for almost 20 years – the CPT emphasised the need to improve the conditions in remand (investigative) prisons, especially with regard to overcrowding, violations of the law as time spent in fresh air has been cut in half, lack of activities outside of the rooms, and poor material conditions. Bearing in mind that all those necessary legal conditions cannot be provided in the existing building of the Podgorica remand prison, in 2015, in cooperation with the NGO Juventas, the HRA recommended to the Government of Montenegro the construction of a new building, which recommendation no government has accepted to date. We expect the new Government to take a serious look at this problem and solve it.
In view of the fact that in July the CPT will be considering the response the Government of Montenegro submitted to their delegation’s Report, the Human Rights Action will promptly submit information that will dispute the Government’s claims from the response regarding the suspension of police officers, continued commitment of the top of the police hierarchy to respecting human rights and suppressing police solidarity in cases of torture, the video surveillance in the Podgorica Security Centre and the audio-visual recording of police interrogations.
 In accordance with Article 10, paragraph 2 of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.