The citizens’ opinion of the police force – Report

Six out of ten citizens of Montenegro trust the police. This suggests that police, despite numerous challenges, has citizens on its side as significant impetus to its work. In a nutshell, these opinions include, apart from the high level of public trust, largely positive associations about typical policemen and policewomen.

This trust score in police is in contradiction with other survey results, drawing a somewhat complex picture of people’s opinion of the police. Citizens think that corruption in this institution is relatively widespread; that the police predominantly serve particular interests, and that recruitment is not merit-based.

Although citizens believe that corruption within the police is widespread, they are not eager to report it. The striking majority of over 73% of the respondents said that they would not report corruption within the police even if they were not asked to disclose their personal data.

The key trends remain steady in comparison with the survey conducted in 2015. This suggests that relatively turbulent developments and opposition protests in the capital city of Podgorica from October 2015, which resulted in excessive use of force by a number of police officers, have not significantly affected the general perception of the police.

Also – like in 2015 – trust in the police and perception of corruption are not positively correlated, indicating the need for further research of key determinants of public trust in institutions. Possible explanations can be associated with the predominant political culture, which is not highly participatory and civic-oriented but is, instead, still parochial and submissive to a significant extent, meaning that a significant portion of population is not eager to question the authorities regardless of their performance.

The report was published as part of the project titled “Western Balkans Pulse for Police Integrity and Trust”, which aims to contribute to increasing the trust and confidence in the police by promoting its accountability and strengthening its integrity. For this reason, the following seven civil society organisations from the region came together to form the POINTPULSE network: Analytica from Skopje, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) from Belgrade, Centre for Security Studies (CSS) from Sarajevo, Institute Alternativa (IA) from Podgorica, Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) from Tirana, and the Kosovo Centre for Security Studies (KCSS) from Pristina.

The project is supported by the European Union through the programme “Civil Society Facility” under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The content of this report is the sole responsibility of the Institute Alternative and the views expressed in this document are not necessarily those of the European Union.

Post-election Shady Business

Stevo Muk“The opposition is satisfied with the results of the elections because the opposition has defeated DPS.“ “The opposition does not accept the election results because of the reported arrest of the group planning a coup.“ “The opposition will form a government with minority parties.” “The opposition ready to support a minority government minority parties.“

We accept the results in Budva, but do not accept the ones in Montenegro and vice versa. I do not envy the citizens, and I envy the least opposition voters who can hardly find their way in a sea of contradictory statements coming from the opposition ranks.
Vlado Dedović is not to be blamed, it is you, opositioners. You are guilty because you have remained silent on the polling stations, in the municipal election committees and the State Election Commission, till Monday, first day after the election week. You played the election game for entire ninety minutes. When a judge played the end, you were generally satisfied with the results of your parties and coalitions (except from the debacle of “Coalition Key“) on the election day you talked about irregularities significantly less than observers of CEMI and CDT, and said nothing about irregularities on the election night.
And when the spectators had left, spotlights were turned off, the opposition leaders remembered that the elections were irregular and unacceptable. After all, it was alleged and sudden opposition unity. I understand that now, after the elections, the opposition must somehow “keep an active political position.” Nevertheless, this looks like deja vu, it’s not logical, there is no legal basis, there is no international support and there is no action strategy.
At the same time, I acknowledge the opposition’s approach in many things. The concept of a transitional government proved insufficient to prevent the misuse of state resources. DPS bought votes in these elections, the prosecution did not conduct proportionate, public and visible action against the organizers, financiers and perpetrators of such crimes. DPS continued with blackmail, threats, offers and promises to employees in the public sector and private tycoon companies. DPS has continued to abuse citizens of other countries (and our law forbids dual citizenship) who are enrolled in the electoral poll of Montenegro, as well as those who do not have a residence in Montenegro for more than two years. DPS has obviously conducted electoral engineering, where it has cheaply bought one and a decisive mandate (HGI). Finally, I believe that the case of an alleged coup is a shady business, and while being processed by the regime through police and media, it could have affected a number of citizens not to go out and vote or to decide differently than they would otherwise have done.
Yet again, there is no reason (unfortunately) for the vote count that was done undisputedly and the determined result to be questioned. It is what the municipal electoral commissions (made of oppositional permanent members as well as oppositional observers) confirmed in all (besides three) polling places, municipal electoral commission and finally SEC. The principle of legality must be defended at the national level, as well as in Budva and in Kotor where the opposition (even though Milo thinks otherwise) won the elections big time!

Naturally, I do not approve of the technical bureaucratic statement of the EU duo that there is no cause for concern, I do not have the stomach for “article on elections“ prepared by the OSCE election observation mission. After all, could have an experienced person expected more?

What I am bothered with the most is the atmosphere of murky waters after elections. It is only in the post-electoral murky waters that Azra Jasavić could have an image of an opositionary worthy of a front page and of moral rehabilitation.

At the end and despite it all, if I would think that there is even a slightest chance that the opositionaries indeed do not accept the results, which undoubtedly brings along the rejections of their own mandates won at such elections, I would have had the respect and the support for their current attitude – the denial of the election results.

However, knowing that it is simply a short-term encouragement tactics of the defeated opposition voters and an artificial creation of the post-electoral dramatization topic, I refuse to show any expression of respect and support.

Nonetheless, I am more concerned with the post-electoral analysis, than with the opposition, by which even other parties of the opposition (except for DF) are getting “invited“ in the government of DPS and minorities. The starting point of these analyses is the statement that the government of DPS, SD and minorities would be less “unstable“ so it should be “stabilised“ by an additional opposition party (SNP, DEMOS, URA and/or SDP).

It is only DPS and the Democratic Front that can benefit from the possible positive feedback from one or more moderate oppositions parties to the DPS offer. Why DPS? Because the goal of the DPS is that DPS and DF coexist in this country. Why DF? Because their goal is that the DF represents the ultimate opposition. By promoting an “expanded government“ as a legitimate, justified and useful governance model for Montenegro, the basic statement of DF is confirmed, “that the transitional government was just an entry ticket for expanded government and a treason on the part of opposition in favour of Đukanović and DPS“. In other words, go forth and join them so that DF can say “well, this is what we have been warning you about for months now“.

I refuse to believe that four opposition parties are really on the waiting list and that one call changes everything. I refuse to believe that the leaders and MPs of these parties are ready to completely dismiss what has been repeat a hundred times, “not with DPS“, immediately after the elections.

The argumentation according to which it is claimed that the participation of other parties in the government would reduce the “blackmailing capacity“ of minority parties are even less convicing, rather it leads to a conclusion that the opposition parties (one or some of them) would ask for “LESS“ from DPS than minority parties. So much respect for minority parties after all these years of their silence within the government, and so little faith in the determination of moderate opposition parties and their managements.

Finally, if it does occur that the angry oposition, aka “never with DPS“, enters the government with DPS (with or without Milo Đukanović), why bother with elections?

Stevo MUK
President of the Managing Board

Letter of the NGO representatives in the Council for Development of NGOs to the Prime Minister

Below you can read the original version of the letter that NGO representatives in the Council for Development of NGO sent to the Prime Minister of Montenegro.

Respected Prime Minister,

According to the information available at the Government’s Web Page, the Government has adopted the “Proposal of the effects of the Implementation of the Strategy for Development of Non-governmental Organisations 2014-2016” at the 173. session held on 19 September 2016.

We hereby inform you that this document was not discussed at the meeting of the Council for Development of NGOs.

The president of the Council first scheduled the session with this document on the agenda, but then canceled it, so the Council has never discussed this document.

We also remind you that one of the key Council’s tasks envisaged by the Decision on the Establishment of this body is to provide opinion on draft legislation, i.e. strategic and other documents that refer to functioning and development of NGOs in Montenegro. By neglecting this fact and adopting document without the Opinion of the Council, the Government has absolutely undermined the role and existence of this advisory body, formed by the Government itself.

This act represents an escalation of the problems that are marking the work of the Council for months now. On 22 July, ten NGO representatives at the Council have requested the President to “provide a written assurance the official opinions of the Council will in future primarily be sent to the members of the Council for deliberation and verification and then in such, verified format delivered to the Government.” This decision of the Council’s NGO members is in accordance with the joint assessment that the President of the Council, together with the Office for Cooperation with NGOs (which prepares opinions and statements of the Council), have modified the Opinion approved by the Council’s majority in relation to the Report on the procedure of issuing the Decision on the allocation of revenue from games of chance for 2016, added stands and opinions which the Council did not approve, and delivered it to the Government hereby rendering the Opinion previously adopted by the Council meaningless. NGO representatives assessed that such approach makes the work of this body meaningless, if the content and essence of adopted proposals and conclusions are later being changed.

Council’s NGO representatives have also repeatedly requested written assurance that the press releases from the future sessions of the Council will be delivered to the Council’s members for review in a timely manner – before delivery to the media.

Since in the meantime there has been no concrete answer from the President of the Council to our request, we informed other members of the Council in early September that we will not participate in the work of this body until we receive an answer upon our request.

While our request remains unanswered, we find out that the Government adopts acts within the competence of the Council without the opinion of this body.

Therefore we expect from the Government which established this advisory body to ensure its functioning by informing other members of the Government about this problem and by adopting the following conclusions:

A written response to a request of NGO representatives in the Council from 22 July referring to the preparation of the Opinion of the Council should be provided,

Each act that refers to development of NGOs in Montenegro should be adopted only with the prior adopted opinion of the Council.

If the work and role of the Council does not improve, we believe that this Council does not contribute to the improvement of inter-sectoral cooperation and the function it should have.

NGO representatives in the Council:

Aleksandar Dedović, Alfa Center

Ana Novaković, Center for Development on NGOs (CRNVO)

Anica Maja Boljević, Fund for Active Citizenship (fAKT)

Veselin Šturanović, Foundation for the Development of Northern Montenegro

(Fors Montenegro)

Vladan Nikolić, Association of Paraplegics of Montenegro

Igor Milošević, Association for Democratic Prosperity (ADP – Zid)

Marina Vujačić, Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro (UMHCG)

Mirela Korać, The Union of Associations of Parents of Children with Disabilities “Our Initiative“

Snežana Kaluđerović, Center for Civic Education (CGO)

Stevo Muk, Institute Alternative (IA)

History of parallel engagement: Documentation on the Jelić case

By following the link below you can access the documents – Decision on Reassignment, earnings and Consensual termination of the employment of MP Zoran Jelić in the Employment Agency of Montenegro.

Read why this parallel engagement is not in accordance with Montenegrin legal acts (Constitution of Montenegro, Law on Prevention of Corruption, Law on Administrative Procedure, Law on Civil Servants and State Employees) in the article “Authorities remain silent while Jelić breaks the law” prepared by our partner Centre for Investigative Journalism – CIN.

Documentation on the Jelić case is available here (only in Montenegrin)

Opening the question of accountability for the failure of the prosecutorial investigation

Below you can watch RTCG TV report on yesterday’s presentation of research results on the efficiency of prosecutorial investigations.

Dina Bajramspahić, public policy researcher in Institute Alternative, was a guest this morning in the TV show “Boje jutra”, where, in addition to presenting these research findings, she discussed main topics in today’s newspapers.

Prosecutorial investigation is more efficient than judicial

Prosecutorial investigation is much more efficient than judicial investigation, while cooperation of the Police and State Prosecutor’s office is generally good and with mutual trust, although some minor problems are still present, showed a research of Institute Alternative (IA).

Public policy researcher at IA, Dina Bajramspahić said today while presenting a research “Six years of prosecutorial investigation in Montenegro” that IA researchers have conducted interviews with 36 state prosecutors, police officers and their managers in five Montenegrin municipalities.

The aim of these interviews, she explained, was to get to know about cooperation and practices of work from their point of view, and focus of the research was on the pre-trial stage.

Bajramspahić reminded that IA conducted a research on the same topic in 2014, when dissatisfaction of police officers and judges who assessed the differences in comparison to previous period was at much higher level.

“This time, most of the interviewees expressed their view that prosecutorial investigations is much more efficient than judicial and cooperation of the Police and State Prosecutor’s Office is generally good and with mutual trust, although some minor problems are still present”, said Bajramspahić at PR Centre.

As she said, a practice of shifting responsibility for the lack of results in some areas from one side to another is still present. “In particular, the question of accountability for unsolved cases remains open”.

“The total percentage of resolved crimes decreased from 67.8% in 2010 to 53.8% in 2015, i.e. by 14%. In other words, half of the perpetrators of crimes remain undiscovered, said Bajraspahić.

While in 2010, 914 criminal offenses remained unresolved, in 2015 that number increased to 2.636.

Bajramspahić said that, based on the official reports, one could get an impression that either the number of committed criminal offenses in Montenegro have halved in the last ten years or proactivity of the police in detecting crimes have decreased.

“Thus, compared to 2005, when we had 9,579 registered criminal offenses, in 2015 were registered twice less, i.e. 5,247. It is particularly worrying that the official reports contain no information on reduced criminal offenses compared to the previous period”, she explained.

Along with that, said Bajramspahić, the number of persons convicted by the competent Prosecutor’s Offices in Montenegro is in decline.
“In 2008, we had 8,677 of them, and only 3,765 in 2015, which is five thousand less before the prosecutorial investigation was introduced”, she said.

Bajramspahić considers it positive that in the process of judicial review 92.5% of the indictments from the jurisdiction of basic and high state prosecutors have been confirmed, as well as all the indictments from the jurisdiction of Special Prosecutor’s Office.

“However, it is reasonable to question if the prosecutors now hesitate more whether to issue an indicting proposal, compared to the practice from the time of the judicial investigation”, stated Bajramspahić.

She said that one of the significant problems is that prosecutors managing the work of the police are not sufficiently familiar with their capabilities and limitations, as well as their forensic science techniques.

“In some examples, especially at the basic level, the prosecutors have expressed interest to participate actively during the investigation, but more often they accept the role of just sitting in their offices waiting for the police to entirely solve the case and bring evidence that prosecutors would represent in court,” explained Bajraspahić.

One of the features of the prosecutorial investigation that prosecutors are mostly proud of is, as she said, the duration of the investigation.

“Prosecutorial investigation, even in the most complex cases for the most serious crimes – organized crime and corruption, which are under the jurisdiction of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office, lasted an average of two months and 22 days,” said Bajramspahić.

She said that, according to some statistics on secret surveillance measures ending with 9 June 2015, the results achieved by applying these measures are extremely weak.

“Criminal proceedings were initiated against 190 out of 846 wiretapped persons, and only 19 of them were convicted. This is 2.24% of the total number of wiretapped persons”, stated Bajramspahić.

In the prosecution and the police, as she pointed out, a problem of uneven workload of prosecutors and inspectors is present, as well as tolerance of less involvement of others.

“That’s why it is necessary to improve the procedures of allocating cases, but also the assessment and measurement of professional performance”, said Bajramspahić.

She pointed out that it is necessary to provide premises for public prosecutors in security centers, in order to be at the disposal of police officers for at least part-time.
“Since the Criminal Procedure Code prescribes as an exception that police can interrogate the suspect, with the approval of the state prosecutor and in the presence of a defense attorney, this provision should be applied when needed, which was not the case so far”, said Bajraspahić.

She said that there is a series of actions in which the contribution of citizens is extremely important, such as testimony, searches and identification.

IA has presented the results of the analysis made with the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy. The research was conducted within the project “Prosecutorial investigation in the Western Balkans – How to become effective?”, which Institute Alternative (IA) is conducting in cooperation with the Association of Public Prosecutors of Serbia (UTS).

Article originally published at PR Centre website.