The Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment criticises Montenegro for ill-treatment of remand prisoners
Sofía Medina Sánchez
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), published the 22nd of June 2023 a report on its ad hoc visit to Montenegro. The CPT highlighted the need for measures to address police ill-treatment and improve living conditions of remand prisoners.
The CPT’s delegation received numerous allegations of grave physical ill-treatment by police officers of detained persons. These included slaps, kicks to the head, abdomen, chest, and arms, grabbing of genitals, electro-shocks, inducing sensation of asphyxia using a plastic bag over the suspect’s head, threats of rape and at gunpoint, dousing of suspects with cold water, etc. Moreover, the delegation was informed of police officers threatening the children and family members of the suspect in order to obtain a confession. These allegations amount to torture, in the view of the CPT.
The majority of these alleged incidents occurred during the pre-investigation phase of criminal proceedings, with the intention to obtain information. Many allegations concerned persons who did not even qualify as suspects yet. Although the CPT has appreciated the recent reforms and commitment of the Montenegro Government, it qualifies these measures as insufficiently effective. The report gives advice and recommendations and calls upon the Minister of Interior, regional and police officers and the Director of Police to promote a culture change within law enforcement officials. Moreover, it encourages police officers to report cases of violence by colleagues, which they have knowledge of and recommends the implementation of a legal framework for the protection of individuals who disclose information regarding ill-treatment.
The situation of police impunity must come to an end. This requires effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment and the improvement of accountability and oversight mechanisms. Law enforcement officials are charged with enforcing the law, they do not have carte blanche to surpass it.
Sources and further reading:
Council of Europe, Newsroom, Anti-torture committee critical of police ill-treatment and poor living conditions for remand prisoners in Montenegro, 22 June 2023: https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/council-of-europe-s-anti-torture-committee-critical-of-police-ill-treatment-and-poor-living-conditions-for-remand-prisoners-in-montenegro
Council of Europe Portal, Media Release, Ref. DC 150(2023), Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee critical of police ill-treatment and poor living conditions for remand prisoners in Montenegro, Strasbourg, 22.06.2023: https://search.coe.int/directorate_of_communications/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=0900001680abaa70
Council of Europe, Report to the Government of Montenegro on the ad hoc visit to Montenegro carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 7 to 13 June 2022, CPT/Inf (2023) 10, available at: https://rm.coe.int/1680abb132