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CoE Report Urges Montenegro to Investigate Police Brutality

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman Treatment, CPT, on Thursday called on Montenegro’s authorities to investigate cases of police brutality.

In its report, the Committee called on Interior Minister Filip Adzic, head of the Police Directorate Nikola Terzic and regional police directors to actively promote a culture change within law enforcement agencies.

“Police officers should be encouraged to report all cases of violence by colleagues through clear reporting lines to a distinct authority outside of the police unit concerned. It is essential that effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment are undertaken to demonstrate that criminal acts by the police will be punished. The current culture of police impunity must be ended,” the report said.

“It’s also important that procedures are in place to ensure that all complaints of ill-treatment by police officers are promptly and thoroughly investigated,” it added.

Citing a European police agency EUROPOL report to the Montenegrin government from last May, news portal Libertas Press on March 23 published photos and SKY app transcripts of police special unit officers and members of the notorious Kavac drug gangs.

In the published photos, special unit police officers can be seen beating prisoners, putting guns in their mouths, suffocating them and torturing them with electricity.

According to civil society organisations, more than 70 cases of alleged police torture have been reported to the Montenegrin Police Directorate, the Ombudsperson and the State Prosecution since 2020.

But the Council of Europe Committee noted that most of the cases were not investigated by authorities, despite calls to do so from human rights organisations.

“The allegations included slaps, punches, the grabbing and squeezing of suspects’ genitals, electro-shocks, threats at gunpoint, threats of rape… Our delegation also heard of threats made against the children or other family members of the suspect to pressure them to make a confession or to impart certain pieces of information. In the Committee’s view, these alleged actions may well amount to torture,” the report said.

A March 20 report by the US State Department noted reports of police torture of suspects and of beatings that occurred in prisons and detention centres across Montenegro. It added that most complaints involving criminal proceedings did not result in heavy penalties.

The Council of Europe Committee report also warned of poor conditions in remand prisons in Podgorica and Bijelo Polje, stressing that some pre-trial detainees are locked in their cells for 23 hours a day for months. In the report, Committee said living conditions in many cells were still afflicted by severe overcrowding.

Source: Balkan Insight