Today, we mark the International Day of the Fight against Police Brutality in Montenegro with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of March 11, 2021, which determined that the competent public bodies, primarily the prosecution and the police, did not conduct an efficient and effective investigation in case of brutal torture and violation of citizens during the protest in October 2015, when evidence in the form of video material traveled around the world. According to this decision, residents of Podgorica – Branimir Vukčević and Momčilo Baranin need to be paid 7,500 euros in compensation for the violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, related to the prohibition of degrading treatment or punishment. Until nowdays, more than five years later, the police officers who committed crimes have not been identified, and the case is still in the pre-investigation phase.
We can state that Montenegro cannot boast of an effective fight of the competent state institutions when it comes to police torture and ill-treatment. Practice has shown that institutions react faster and more efficiently in the prosecution of citizens, but in the case of police officers this process is often very slow and very often without a clear determination of responsibility and punishment. Specifically, in a number of cases, the responsible police officers who committed or ordered torture and ill-treatment were not identified or prosecuted at all. However, when officials are identified or prosecuted, sanctions are mitigated and often meaningless. Also, the signing of plea agreements is increasingly present, where the punishment defined by the plea agreement is a suspended sentence.
Civic Alliance believes that this practice is unacceptable and does not lead to prevention, ie, to prevention of police officers from committing such and similar crimes, but on the contrary, can encourage individuals to continue to commit crimes, knowing that they will not be prosecuted or that they can end up without sanctions.
It is not difficult to measure the progress in this area and come to the conclusion that we need fast and quality changes. In a democratic state, it is unacceptable for police officers to demonstrate force and beat citizens on the streets, to fail to identify and prosecute those who abused, and for cases to become obsolete.
Civic Alliance believes that systematic impunity should come to an end. We need efficient, effective and independent investigations that will provide results, and we expect from the new leadership to deal with this issue as severely as possible, and to strengthen the control mechanisms. Decisions should be made on the basis of the collected evidence, not on the basis of signing a plea agreement. Only in this way the message will be sent that torture and ill-treatment are strictly prohibited and only in this way torture by police officers will be stopped.