Law demands an agreement, but…

Dina BajramspahićAfter all the twists and the upheaval that followed the appointment of the Head of Special police unit, I would like to express a deep personal belief that the obstruction is not the issue, but the lack of capacity to reach compromise.

First of all, we should reiterate the legal formulation: the head of the Police Department is appointed by the Director of Police Department, with the consent of the Chief Special Prosecutor. This provision is in no way provisionary as it determines that due to a common interest, both parties should be satisfied with the solution and that the systemic issue with the cooperation of the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office should be overcome with agreements and not by force. For this reason I do not support the amendments to the law for the benefit of one party or the other.

Amidst the loud disputes on this issue, an important fact is being ignored – that the Director of police appoints and dismisses all heads of departments within the Police, which is not the case only in Montenegro but in every other country in the world, given that he is the responsible for the work of the Police. However, having in mind the necessity of closer cooperation between prosecutors and police inspectors, such provision is adopted and the chief special prosecutor is involved in the procedure of appointment of the head of a department in a completely different organisational unit. If the statement of the head special prosecutor that he is ‘’the responsible one and should be the one making the decision’’ had been completely true, it would have been possible to dismiss all head of departments within the police so that the prosecutors can be responsible for the work of police. Nevertheless, it takes much imagination for anyone to recall that the issue of the dispute can be any word of the general legal provision. Now, let’s move on to the overview of the 6-months-long negotiations.

First of all, Katnić proposed three candidates. Stojanović then refused proposals, insisting that Katnić is breaking the law with the very initiative of proposal, meaning that it is not up to Katnić to make the proposition, but that he should be the one making the proposition to Katnić in order for him to merely agree. Perhaps he did not like the proposals, or someone who is de facto more in charge than him did not like it, which is a likely scenario. Next, Katnić proposed one more candidate. Stojanović responded by proposing two names that Katnić has already proposed the first time. By doing so, the entire obstruction argument becomes invalid, because Stojanović has agreed upon the two ‘’Katnić’s’’ candidates and by that the law could have been implemented and unit formed. But Katnić was no longer interested in doing so, this time he only wanted the last candidate and none other.

The law has inexorably demanded for the agreement to be reached. To make things worse, both of them are absolutely certain that they are driven by principles and morals and that they have demonstrated their best will to resolve the issue. However, the responsibility is shared by law; therefore the failure is to be shared too.

While having an enormous respect and recognition for the previous work and results of the Head Special Prosecutor, I believe that everyone who thinks that they are helping by trying to link the special police unit to the Special Prosecutor’s Office and completely isolate it from the police, the criminal police sector in particular, are actually not helpful. No matter how good, a police officer cannot do much on his own in Montenegro am small as it is, because they depend on operational field data, and quite often also depend on what is heard second-hand, which is the starting point for further evidence collection, particularly in organised criminal groups. At some point, the exhaustion of years of filling and neglecting criminal charges will happen and thus the bigger burden for the police to uncover criminal acts.

There is one more reason why I consider that the Director of police should resign today. At the control hearing in the Committee on Political System, Justice and Administration, the Chief special prosecutor introduced the public to the fact that although there were requests made to the police, the police has not acted accordingly regarding the PGS Agency case – which is absolutely unacceptable.

Within its work related to the police integrity IA has, during 2015, pointed out the neglect of the issue of ‘’buying for free software’’ at the Police which the internal control of the Ministry of Interior has submitted to the Special Prosecutor’s Office in 2012. The case was based on doubt that the company PGS has during three years of cooperation installed an otherwise free software for police systems to the police, after downloading it online, and regularly submitted the receipts for paying ‘’intellectual service’’. In April 2014, the prosecutor’s office submitted the entire documentation to the police with an instruction to do a comparison of the documentation to the software applications that were installed at the police and determine if the services were actually provided. Up until today, after five urgencies, the police have not completed the requirements of the Prosecutor’s office.

This is not the first or the only issue where the former Police department management is suspected of misuse, or the say the least carelessness, and the current Head of the police directorate has not invested even a minimum effort for the issue to be investigated and finally lead towards a result – prosecution or annulment of accusations. In distant 2006, Zlatica camp was sold and in 2011 it was bought again for the double amount. There were no changes thus far. The responsibility for the vast damage of the state budget has still not been determined regarding the illegal construction of the Police Directorate. Not to mention that only two police officers are responsible for the abuse of power after the protests. Not resolving these issues is undoubtedly the responsibility of Director of Police department. Even though the police has shown a certain level of integrity in sanctioning police officers for obstruction of the law, official duty, and ethics, it still continues to nurture the politics of pushing under the rug serious doubts that in the top of the police certain decisions were brought against public interest.

Dina BAJRAMSPAHIĆ
Public Policy Researcher

Text originally published in the section ,,Forum” of Daily Vijesti

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