With great interest and participation from attendees, the Civil Alliance successfully conducted training from October 16th to 18th on the topic of effective investigation of torture and human rights violations aimed at representatives of the Police Administration, prosecutors, and judges.
The training comprised three modules:
- Rights and obligations of persons deprived of liberty and why they are vulnerable categories;
- Meaning and practical application of standards and requirements arising from Articles 3, 5, 6, and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
- The role and significance of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in protecting human rights and the importance of accessibility of closed institutions for monitoring by NGOs.
The training was opened by the Ombudsman of Montenegro, Siniša Bjeković, who presented the role of the Ombudsman institution in preventing human rights violations, focusing on persons deprived of liberty. He emphasized that most complaints are received from victims of torture and that, very often, the civil sector is the first to uncover allegations of this issue. He recalled the cases of Milić/Nikezić when our courts did not establish, or even suspect, torture, while the Ombudsman institution was the only one that found allegations of torture. Torture also includes conditions in detention facilities that violate basic principles of humanity. Accordingly, he presented the work of the NPM body in monitoring detention facilities.
State Prosecutor Danka Ivanović Đerić highlighted that we cannot join the European Union with such a large number of torture cases. She explained the concept of torture, who can be a perpetrator, and the role of the prosecution in prosecution, i.e., initiating investigations. She also discussed the problems prosecutors face regarding material conditions, such as the lack of appropriate interview rooms and the challenges of fighting against torture from a prosecutorial perspective.
She emphasized that until we address the fact that some of our colleagues among us are responsible for abuse, we cannot expect to eradicate this problem and noted that our penal policy is too lenient.
Regarding the legal reasons for ordering and extending detention in accordance with convention standards and examples from the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, Montenegro’s representative before the European Court of Human Rights, Valentina Pavličić, spoke, with a special focus on justifications in accordance with Article 5, paragraphs 1 and 3 of the convention. She believes that as a system, we have not given an adequate response to the elimination of torture, and as a country, we must comply with the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. She also reminded us that states have an obligation to organize their judicial systems in a way that their courts can meet the standards envisaged by the Convention, and the norm must be established as a living instrument.
Through specific examples from the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, Judge of the Constitutional Court Snežana Armenko discussed the above-mentioned articles of the Convention, focusing on material and procedural aspects. She referred to Article 3 and the fact that continuous ill-treatment of a specific individual, due to its intensity, duration, the victim’s state, and other characteristics and circumstances, can, in its entirety, reach a minimum degree of severity to constitute a violation of Article 3 of the Convention, even if each such individual act does not constitute a violation of Article 3 of the Convention, especially if there is no adequate reaction by the competent authorities to investigate such attacks and prevent such conduct.
Deputy Ombudsman Mirjana Radović and advisor Mensur Bošnjak, also members of the NPM, talked about the work of this body and its role in detecting elements of torture. They mentioned one of the indicators for abuse, which was pointed out to us by the CPT – when a person gives a self-incriminating statement to an inspector, not to a prosecutor. They also stressed the importance of medical examinations being conducted only in the visual, not auditory, field of the police officer. On the other hand, they pointed out the problems faced by police officers: lack of staff, sick leaves, spatial capacities…
Regarding mistakes in procedures, Radović and Bošnjak emphasized that 99% of them occurred because they were not corrected initially when it could have been done. Timely and complete record-keeping related to citizens entering the premises of the Police Administration to provide information as citizens represents one of the mechanisms for evaluating the legality of deprivation of liberty. It is necessary to provide special rooms for interviews and equip them with audio and/or video recording, given that the existence of such rooms represents a form of preventive action and a significant measure to protect persons deprived of liberty from possible unlawful conduct by police officers, they concluded.
This activity is part of the project “No Impunity for Violations and Abuses of Human Rights in Montenegro,” supported by the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro and co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration.