This is particularly imortant, given that the protest organizers have announced the continuation of peaceful gathering in days to come, whereas the police have reiterated that they would respond to it.
The police has followed up on the request of the Communal Police, and on 17 September at 6:00 o’clock in the morning began to terminate the protest, because the permits the organizers had for protests (provided by Ministry of Internal Affairs) has expired. On that occasion, police officers have used means of coercion because gathered citizens did not want to end the protests. Eleven people were arrested including two members of Montenegrin Parliament (MPs), two journalists who were on duty, a local councilor in the Parliament of Podgorica and others. Many of them were injured and they were given medical assistance at the ClinicalCenter.
Researchers of Civic Alliance monitored the situation at the terrain and on the streets of Podgorica and carried out the monitoring of police conduct and actions of the competent institution. We express special concern over the unlawfull arresting of two journalists while they were on duty, where one of them suffered physical injuries caused by police officers, although they did not demonstrate any resistance. One of the journalists, at the trial that was monitored by Civic Alliance’s researcher, said he believed that the reason for his detention was because he was filming a situation where a dozen of police officers were beating one citizen.
The Constitution of Montenegro guarantees freedom of peaceful gathering and does not foresee the possibility that the competent authorities may prohibit peaceful gatherings:
Freedom of gathering
The freedom of peaceful gathering, without approval, with prior notification of the competent authority shall be guaranteed.
The freedom of gathering may be temporarily restricted by the decision of the competent authority in order to prevent disorder or execution of a criminal offence, threat to health, morality or security of people and property, in accordance with the law.
Civic Alliance is in possession of information that the movement of certain citizens from other cities to Podgorica is prohibited by police forces and that citizens right to freedom of movement is violated. Civic Alliance is in the process of obtaining information and evidence about the exceeding of authority by the police force. Until now we are in possession of statements of journalists Gojko Raicević and Drazen Živković about abuse of powers, and inflicted injuries by the police forces.
At the end, we ask You to react quickly and help in protecting of human rights and to overcoming of current situation in order to prevent its serious and larger dimensions.
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Coordinator of Human Rights Program
Coordinator of Rule of Law Program