Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Montenegro

The Council of Europe's Committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its first periodic visit to Montenegro as an independent State, together with the Montenegrin authorities’ response. These documents have been made public at the request of the Montenegrin Government. The visit took place in September 2008.
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During the visit, the CPT’s delegation received numerous allegations of deliberate physical ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty by the police and observed, in some cases, physical marks consistent with allegations made. Particular attention was paid to the manner in which investigations were being carried out into cases involving allegations of ill-treatment. The report concludes that the effectiveness of such investigations needs to be improved. Further, the Committee has made a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening legal safeguards against ill-treatment. In their response, the Montenegrin authorities refer to steps taken to improve training for police officers.

At the Remand Prison in Podgorica (part of the “Spuž Prison Complex”), the delegation received several allegations of physical ill-treatment of prisoners by staff, some of which were supported by medical evidence. The CPT has recommended that the authorities deliver to prison staff a firm message that physical ill-treatment and verbal abuse of inmates are not acceptable and will be dealt with severely.

A number of improvements were noted as regards material conditions for sentenced prisoners in Podgorica as compared to the situation found during a visit in 2004. However, the conditions in which remand prisoners were being held had deteriorated, due to the alarming level of overcrowding. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that remand prisoners remained for 23 hours or more a day inside their cells, in some cases for several years.

The majority of patients at the Dobrota Special Psychiatric Hospital spoke positively about the attitude of the staff and the atmosphere was relaxed. However, in the hospital’s forensic psychiatric unit, the CPT’s delegation heard a number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of patients by private security guards. After the visit, the Montenegrin authorities informed the Committee that they had established a protocol defining the rights and responsibilities of the security service and that special training was being provided to security staff. As regards material conditions at the hospital, most wards had benefitted from thorough refurbishment.

At the Komanski Most Institution for People with Special Needs, the extremely low number of staff was at the core of the Institution’s inability to provide adequate protection, care, hygiene and regime for the residents. Material conditions were appalling, and the CPT’s delegation found residents fixated to beds or other furniture, mostly with torn strips of cloth but also by chains and padlocks. The Committee called upon the Montenegrin authorities to carry out a comprehensive review of the situation and to draw up a detailed action plan for reforming the Komanski Most Institution. In their response, the Montenegrin authorities refer to the recruitment of additional staff, the separation of children from adult residents, and measures to improve the hygiene and to provide better living conditions for residents.

The CPT's visit report and the response of the Montenegrin authorities are available on the Committee's website: