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On the occasion of marking the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we organized the presentation of the Analysis of the research “Attitudes of citizens and convicted persons on the treatment of police and judicial institutions” conducted by the Damar agency for the needs of Civic Alliance. The event brought together representatives of key institutions whose responsibilities are aimed at preventing and combatting torture, as well as protecting and promoting the rights of individuals against torture.

The event was opened by Riccardo Seri, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro, stating that the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an important reminder every year to all countries of the world that in the 21st century, human torture has no place in any society. He added that no circumstances, including war or emergency, can justify the use of torture, while reaffirming the European Union’s strong determination to fight torture worldwide, in all its forms, contexts and settings. Mr. Seri highlighted deficiencies in internal controls, lengthy and ineffective investigations, lenient and dissuasive sentences, and impunity for perpetrators of violence as reasons for concern. He concluded his presentation by pointing out that we must all put more effort into raising awareness and fighting torture and that non-governmental organizations in Montenegro, as well as the National Preventive Mechanisms, must play an irreplaceable role in this.

Milan Radović, the program director of Civic Alliance, then addressed the audience. Mr. Radović greeted all the guests present and emphasized the importance of such a gathering for the protection and promotion of human rights in general, and especially the rights of those subjected to torture. In the fight against torture, Radović referred to the CAT and CPT reports, stating that Montenegro has not made progress in the protection, intervention and the fight against torture.

In addition, he praised the formation of the Human Rights Defenders Group, whose formation was a key activity stemming from the currently active project of the Civil Alliance entitled “No impunity for violations and breach of human rights in Montenegro”, which is financed by the Delegation European Union and co-financing by the Ministry of Public Administration. As part of the implementation of this project and in connection with the fight against torture, Radović stated that the Civic Alliance thoroughly monitors the work of the courts in cases related to torture. Unfortunately, Montenegro remains in the status quo regarding this issue and efforts should be increased, especially in the introduction of new practices, because only in this way can we expect new results in the fight against torture, Radović added.

An important part of today’s event was the presentation of the research titled “Attitudes of citizens and convicted persons on the treatment of the police and judicial institutions”, which was carried out by Jelena Davidović from the DAMAR agency. The presentation elaborated on five main areas covered by the conducted research. These areas include citizens’ satisfaction with the legal and judicial system and institutions, their knowledge of the existing mechanisms for the protection of fundamental human rights, their perception of the police and their understanding of the functioning of police control, their attitude towards police torture and the attitudes of convicted persons in UIKS in relation to their stay and treatment by UIKS officials.

Vladan Popović, Chief Police Inspector of the Police Administration, also welcomed today’s gathering, stressing that the Police Administration (UP) remains committed to implementing the necessary reforms in order to achieve positive changes in the fight against torture. He praised the work of the Police Administration, stating that the efforts made in the last period have proven their effectiveness, especially the training of police officers on issues related to the prevention of torture. Mr. Popović welcomed the recommendations of all competent institutions and confirmed that the UP will ensure their implementation in accordance with the competences given by law.

Darko Vukčević, assistant director of UIKS, put emphasis on the Investigation Prison, stating that this area is the most problematic for the administration, especially due to overcrowding. Speaking about specific areas related to the promotion of human rights, Vukčević stated that the Istanbul Protocol is respected in its entirety, after which he continued to elaborate on the rights of prisoners from various aspects. Finally, he stated that UIKS will take into account and work on promoting the results and recommendations obtained from the analysis, taking into account their competences.

Mirjana Radović, deputy of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, pointed out that the recommendations from the office of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms were not taken into account and therefore were not implemented by the competent authorities. She emphasized the repeated recommendations from previous periods, which means that there is no progress in this area and as such only contributes to the detriment of the entire country when it comes to the fight against torture, but also other relevant related issues. At the same time, she also pointed out the shortcomings in the country’s ability to implement the recommendations of the CPT. In addition, she emphasized the importance of the judicial branch, stating that an independent, impartial and professional branch is of utmost importance, above all for determining the facts in any given case. In the end, she also stated that there are limitations in the dynamics of work with limited institutional capacities among competent authorities to perform their work effectively.

Ivana Đođić, member of the Police Ethics Committee, welcomed today’s gathering and emphasized the importance of the Ethics Committee in the fight against torture. She particularly pointed out the important role of the Committee in the protection and promotion of citizens’ rights, stating that the opinions issued by the Committee are taken very seriously by the relevant institutions, which ultimately ensures a more unified approach in solving issues related to torture.

The event ended with a presentation by Pavle Ćupić, program coordinator of Civic Alliance, who presented a summary of CAT’s recommendations for Montenegro for 2022, and spoke about the importance of establishing an Action Plan to monitor the implementation of CAT’s recommendations or to publish it if the Ministry of Justice has already drafted it. He stated that it is necessary to make more efforts in the fight against torture and to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights in Montenegro.

The event was organized within the project “No impunity for violations and breach of human rights in Montenegro” financed by the Delegation of the European Union in Montenegro, and co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration.

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