Six Years of Prosecutorial Investigation in Montenegro

Šest godina tužilačke istrage u Crnoj Gori

The respective remits of the two authorities, namely the Police Directorate (hereinafter the Police), as the “crime detection authority” and the State Prosecution Service (hereinafter the Prosecution Service) whose prosecutors are competent for “prosecuting the perpetrators”, determine the room for cooperation, where the police of cer and the prosecutor are interdependent. From the commission of a criminal offence to the moment when an indictment or bill of indictment is led, the two authorities engage in intensive communication and make numerous decisions on the actions and measures to be undertaken; these, in turn, are vital in ensuring that justice is served.

Since the shift to prosecutorial investigation was the most turbulent change experienced by the two authorities in the course of several decades of reforms, the shift to the new method of operation was accompanied by problems related to mastering the new respective roles2. Aiming to attempt to contribute to the solution of these problems, we sought to review the practice: the causes of the problems emerging in the course of cooperation, and the implications, i.e. manifestations of the lack of cooperation which was frequently the topic of public discussions.

In addition, we were interested in identifying the advantages and disadvantages of court-led vs. prosecutorial investigation and whether there was an adequate division of powers (aligned with the capacities and the principle of fairness) among the actors in the procedure (police/prosecution/court/attorneys).

We also compiled the feedback provided by the prosecutors and police of cers concerning the application of the Criminal Procedure Code (hereinafter the CPC), practical examples of implementation of some speci c mechanisms and instruments contained therein, obstacles encountered and the ways to overcome them.

The examples confirmed that the position of some of the members of the Government’s latest Working Group tasked with drafting the Law Amending the CPC, namely that “there could be no problem of lack of cooperation, since the law is clear and sufficient, and cooperation is mandatory”, had not been warranted. Unfortunately, this approach did not contribute to solving the problems.

Press release: DPS’ Final Attack on the State Audit Institution

Remaining State Audit Institution (SAI) Senate members have been appointed, but this was carried out with political attack on the independence and integrity of the institution.

Institute Alternative has been advocating for years for appointment of remaining SAI Senate members, as well as for the more active role of the Parliamentary Committee in regard to this issue, but this solution is something we couldn’t predict in the worst case scenario.

Abusing the absence of the opposition, Parliamentary Committee on Economy, Finance and Budget succeeded in something that the previous committee failed to do – The SAI Senate is now completed, but this was carried out by politically attacking independence and integrity of this Institution.

Radule Žurić seems like a natural choice of Duško Marković and Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) in their intention to regain full control over often disobedient State Audit Institution.

Current composition of the Committee, its President Vujica Lazović and its members, will be remembered as those who have destroyed the Stat Audit Institution as a rare example of independence, objectivity and integrity among control and supervisory institutions.

Although the former appointments of the members of the SAI Senate were the result of the politically proposed persons, they were also the result of a high degree of consensus in Parliament, as a result of their unquestioned professional and professional biography. In the end, these figures were not the key actors of the biggest political scandals, nor did they carry the burden of party and family relations with the key holders of political power in the Government which they should control.

After the first member of the Executive Board of the DPS, Nikola Kovačević, and then Zoran Jelić – DPS MP, the symbol of the Audio Recording Affair, and finally the suspended state auditor, Dusko Markovic’s best man, and member of the Council of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, Radule Žurić – irreversible damage on the reputation of the SAI and the quality of its work has been done.

Stevo Muk

President of the Managing Board

Public finances – the key challenge of local self-government reform

It is difficult to determine the optimal number of employees at a local level, while on the other hand, the high level of employment in municipalities is a burden on public finances, it was noted at the conference today

The conference “Public Administration Reform – For Equitable Regional Development and Quality Services” was held in Kolašin within the project “Civil Society for Good Governance: To Act and Account!”, implemented by the Institute alternative, Bonum, New Horizon, Natura and Center for investigative journalism of Montenegro, with the support of the European Union.

“In the municipality of Kolašin, citizens would certainly say that they are not satisfied, but they spend half the money they used to a few years ago on financing the local self-government and they get the same level of service,” said Perunika Popović, Chief Administrator in Kolašin Municipality.

She also drew attention to the new Law on Administrative Procedure (LAP), whose implementation began on July 1st this year.

“Civil servants should not act on orders, but by law,” she stressed, recalling that the new LAP provides the appointment of special civil servants in charge and responsible for administrative procedures.

Goran Rakočević, Secretary of Finance and General Administration in the Municipality of Kolašin, said that this municipality has been financially sustainable for a year already with many unpopular moves.

“In ten years it will show that there was no other way, the hardest part has passed, and now we should talk about development and expansion. I believe in the development that people make, “he added.

Senad Crnovršanin, from the Directorate for Local Self-Government in the Ministry of Public Administration, commented the role of central authorities in directing strategic development of local self-governments. He also presented the solutions of the current Draft Law on Local Self-Government.

“The new law retains the monotypic form of local self-government (which implies that all municipalities, regardless of size, have the same competencies), but a number of solutions have been proposed to improve the functioning of local self-government,” said Crnovršanin.

He stressed that some provisions relate to regulating duration of the mandate of Assembly, introduction of sanctions for misconduct, and strengthening of the control function of the Assembly through the obligation to review the reports of the State Audit Institution.

“With the aim of rationalizing, it is proposed that the president of the municipality may have at most two vice presidents,” he added.

Crnovršanin pointed out that monitoring the work of local civil servants through evaluation is an important personnel planning tool.

“That is why local governments are responsible for what kind of personnel they will have,” explained Crnovršanin, reminding that the process of defining a methodology for determining the optimal number of employees in local self-governments is on-going.

Snežana Mugoša, Head of the Ministry of Finance Department, responsible for monitoring local self-government budgets commented on the local public finance system.

“When it comes to the expenditure side, the largest share of expenses are gross earnings, capital expenditures and repayment obligations from the previous period,” she explained, specifying that earnings for employees on average amount to 40 – 45 million euros annually.

At present, the Law on Financing Local Self-Governments is being drafted, which provides for the creation of a fund that will provide municipalities the missing funds for EU projects. It also envisages change of the criteria for allocation of funds from the Egalitization Fund.

Milan Mikan Medenica, Executive Director of NGO Natura from Kolašin, said that very often non-governmental organizations are perceived as a threat, although the process of public administration reform requires a joint work of the non-governmental sector, the media and the official institutions.

“We are witnesses that administration is often not a citizens’ service,” he said, recalling that in the recent period, Kolašin Municipality was a place where over-employment has been present and the budget has been spent to the detriment of the citizens.

Milena Milošević, Institute Alternative researcher, recalled that during the first year of implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy, 60% of the activities were not implemented within the foreseen deadline.

“The current Strategy is to a large extent a Strategy for State Administration Reform, because numerous measures that should be applied to the local level as well have not found their place in this strategic document,” said Milošević.

She also recalled earlier recommendations of the Institute Alternative for an analysis to be carried out on the success of individual local self-governments in collecting their own revenues, and to link the Tax Administration and local self-governments in the part of the calculation of concession fees. In this way, municipalities would be able to gain insight into the revenues they could expect from the concessions.

One of the topics of discussion was reducing the number of employees and rationalizing costs, especially in the case of Kolašin Municipality.

However, it was noted that it is very difficult to find a criterion for determining the optimal number of employees, while the representatives of Kolašin Municipality emphasized that the task of analyzing working places and required jobs in smaller units of local self-government is simpler than at the central level.

It was also emphasized that 23 persons in the Municipality of Kolašin had been employed in illegal manner, before the rationalization of local authorities has started.

At the event, it was also noted that municipalities have difficulties in finding funds for capital investments, due to tax debt repayments and large wage expenditures.

Institute Alternative Team

Seven Months without Establishing Responsibility for Possible Abuse of Power

The system for establishing accountability in the Ministry of Interior in Montenegro is completely ineffective in fighting alleged abuse of power by police officers.

Seven months have passed since the media reported that two disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against police officer D. D. for gross negligence in the line of duty. Institute Alternative has gotten an official response from the Ministry of Interior (MoI) that this officer was not suspended, that internal control does not conduct any case against police officer and that the Disciplinary Commission didn’t reach any conclusions on the case.

According to the media reports, “it was established that the inspector didn’t check for DNA in 427 cases and that she entered false data into the Interpol’s database, that the mentioned cases were acted upon or already concluded”. Allegedly, among this data was also of movement of persons of interest from Podgorica, Kotor, Bar and Budva, which the inspector allegedly aided. On the other hand, it is doubted that she unauthorized checked the personal data of 56 persons.

Without prejudging the responsibility of the officer, but through analyzing the work of the relevant organizational units for determining of responsibility, the official MoI response surprised us for several reasons.

Firstly, how is it possible that a police officer who is suspected of obstructing investigations against criminal clans is not suspended, or an urgent decision on the temporary limitation of official duty in accordance with Article 108 of the Law on Internal Affairs?

The logic of the suspension is to prevent further misuse of police officers’ powers and damage to police affairs by officials who are suspected of gross negligence.

Secondly, what happened to the investigations by internal control, which in March this year stated to “Pobjeda” daily newspaper that the aforementioned inspector “failed to comply, her hearing was not conducted and she had provided medical findings that prevent her from attending the hearing”?

The Institute Alternative requested from internal control to submit a decision whether the case was concluded with a finding of unlawfulness or by establishing that there was no illegality – and has received an answer that “there were no action taken against the mentioned inspector”. Does the Internal control suspend investigations in case of police officers’ sickness?

And finally, the Disciplinary Commission did not submit to us their decisions because “the disclosure of information could jeopardize the disciplinary procedure” – which means that it is still in progress, although the media reported that it was launched in December 2016. The question is how much time the MoI needs to establish the facts and sanction officials who are suspected of the most serious misconduct.

In addition, the media report that other proceedings are ongoing against this police officer, in the special police department in relation to the obstruction of the clan investigations. However, those cases did not delay her suspension, the work of internal control or the disciplinary commission, on the contrary.

All of the above points out to the inefficiency of the Ministry of Interior in the implementation of instruments for determining the responsibility of police officers and the need for a fundamental reform of the entire system.

Official response of Ministry of Interior could be read HERE (only in Montenegrin).

Dina Bajramspahić

Public Policy Researcher

(mne) Infografik: Javne nabavke za građane

Below you can see the infographics on the money spent on public procurement in 2016 as well as which were the companies made most profit out of it. (only in Montenegrin)