Tackling ill-treatment in the police service, impunity issues and lack of adequate compensation for victims are matters of basic human rights and solving them presents an important issue for Montenegro and other countries in the region on European path, as well as for other Council of Europe and EU members. These were key messages from the International conference titled "Tackling ill-treatment by police: addressing challenges revealed by judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and by other Council of Europe bodies”, which took place in Budva.
The conference primarily dealt with outstanding police impunity issues, the good practices and avenues for improvement in respect to improving the institutional culture in law enforcement agencies and zero tolerance message, regulatory framework, as well as ensuring effective investigations as well as the role of the judiciary.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Montenegro Zoran Pažin noted that Montenegrin institutions must use the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in order to continue to promote national human rights mechanisms and strongly affirm zero tolerance for all cases of misuse of official powers in law enforcement. “Police officers are in the frontline of protecting the fundamental rights of citizens. Their lawful conduct is, therefore, a cornerstone of the rule of law. Therefore, the police service must decisively remove from its ranks any malpractice officer who, through abuse of authority, causes enormous damage to citizens' trust in lawful and equitable the conduct of the police service”, said Pažin.
Head of the EU Delegation in Montenegro, Ambassador Aivo Orav, noted that important progress has been made and Montenegrin institutions have increased their understanding of the rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. “Institutional capacities and the capacity of the National Preventive Mechanism have been reinforced, but improvements are still needed to address issues of ill-treatment. Promoting accountability and combatting impunity is a necessary target to ensure that legal safeguards are duly implemented and fully respected. We, together with our partners, will continue to support Montenegro when it comes to combatting torture and ill-treatment by providing funding and expertise”, concluded Ambassador Orav.
Director of Human Rights, Council of Europe, Christophe Poirel, stated that eradication of ill-treatment in police service and preventing impunity are basic values of every democratic society. “This is a very important issue that goes to the centre of member state responsibility regarding respect for human rights, functioning of true democracy and the rule of law. Individuals have filed and continue to file many petitions with the European Court of Human Rights. Through its jurisprudence, the court has developed a minimum of standards that imply that the use of force by the state be within the limitations of the law to ensure public confidence in the police”, stated Poirel.
President of European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Mykola Gnatovskyy, stated that in the 21st century nobody should be subject to police ill-treatment. “The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has worked constructively with the countries of this region in order to prevent any sort of ill-treatment. It is necessary to have systems that enable conducting effective investigations in ill-treatment cases and perpetrators to be punished”, said Gnatovskyy.
The International conference is a part of a joint programme of the European Union and Council of Europe "Horizontal Facility for West Balkan and Turkey II“, conducted within the Action “Strengthening the Effective Legal Remedies to Human Rights Violations“.