Article 25 of the 2007 Constitution of Montenegro declares that "There shall be no limitations imposed" on the right to life. Article 28 provides that:
The dignity and security of a man shall be guaranteed.
The inviolability of the physical and mental integrity of a man, and privacy and individual rights thereof shall be guaranteed.
No one can be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
Article 52 governs the right to freedom of assembly:
The freedom of peaceful assembly, without approval, with prior notification of the competent authority shall be guaranteed.
The freedom of assembly may be temporarily restricted by the decision of the competent authority in order to prevent disorder or execution of a criminal offence, threat to health, morality or security of people and property, in accordance with the law.
Article 11 requires that security services be "under democratic and civil control" while Article 82 requires their supervision by Parliament. The Constitution does not specifically regulate use of force by law enforcement agencies.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||Yes|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1950 European Convention on Human Rights||State Party|
Police Use of Force
Law enforcement in Montenegro is primarily the responsibility of the Police Administration (Uprava Policije) under the Ministry of Interior.
The use of force by the police is regulated under the 2012 Law on Internal Affairs. Article 14 obligates police officers to "act in compliance with the Constitution, ratified international treaties, law and other regulations". Police officers are further obligated to comply with standards of police action, in particular in the "limitation and restraint in the use of force" and the "prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment".
Article 26 ("Principle of Proportionality") stipulates that:
The exercise of police powers must be proportionate to the need for which they have been undertaken.
While exercising the coercive means, they shall be used gradually, from the lightest to the heavier means of coercion, if possible, and in any case with the minimum of necessary force.
Article 62 governs the use of a police baton ("Truncheon"):
The truncheon may be used if the milder manners of use of physical force are unsuccessful or do not guarantee success.
Strikes with a truncheon shall not be made to the head, neck, spine, chest, abdominal, genital and joints, except as a final measure.
Against persons under 14, obviously sick and infirm persons, severely disabled and women whose pregnancy is visible, the truncheon can only be used if any of those persons are with firearms, tools or other dangerous object is threatening another person life.
Under Article 71, chemical irritants, including tear gas, may be used "in order to restore disrupted public peace and order, to force persons out of closed areas, resolve a hostage situation and in cases when the requirements for use of ... firearms ... have been met."
When using chemical substances in the vicinity of children and old people institutions, hospitals, elementary schools and busy roads and easily flammable substances, special measures of protection shall be undertaken.
Chemical substances shall not be used against persons being in the vicinity of explosive-flammable substances, at the high altitude and in similar places where a human life might be threatened.
Article 73 governs the use of firearms:
While policing, a police officer may use firearms only if other means of coercion already used were inefficient to reach a result, or when it is necessary to:
1) protect life of people;
2) prevent escape of a person captured while committing a criminal offence prosecuted ex officio and punishable by imprisonment sentence of ten years or severe sentence, in case of imminent threat to life
3) prevent escape of a person, lawfully arrested, or a person under the arrest warrant for the commission of criminal offences referred to in item 2 of this Article in case of imminent life threat
4) repel from him the imminent attack threatening his life
5) repel attack on facility or persons being protected, in case of imminent threat to life.
Article 327(1) of the Criminal Code provides that endangering a human life or a human body by a dangerous activity or by dangerous means is punishable by imprisonment of between six months and five years.
There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Montenegro, although the national ombudsman can investigate complaints against the police.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2014 Concluding Observations on Montenegro, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern "at the high number of reported cases of ill-treatment in detention centres and the low number of prosecutions of such cases" committed by law enforcement personnel.
Baranin and Vukčević v. Montenegro (2021)
This case concerned ill-treatment by the police. In 2015, the applicants were beaten by unidentified members of the police Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SAU). They had been in the vicinity of a political protest organised by an opposition coalition which turned violent, but in which they had not participated. An ongoing investigation was opened into the incident by the State prosecutor’s office, leading to the conviction of the SAU commander for aiding a perpetrator following the commission of a crime. In 2017, the Constitutional Court found a violation of both the substantive and procedural aspects of Article 3 in relation to the incident. The applicants also instituted civil proceedings against the State and received some compensation in respect of non-pecuniary damage for the ill-treatment suffered.
The State prosecutor had not interviewed any of the officers engaged on the night of the incident, nor a number of witnesses and potential witnesses, until after the Constitutional Court decisions had been published, namely two years after the incident. In other words, those acts had not been carried out promptly. The investigation had also not pursued all lines of enquiry: notably, not everybody had been questioned, and the Forensic Centre had not been contacted. It had also never been clarified if there had only been SAU members on the scene that night. While it was certainly possible that none of those lines of enquiry would have shed any additional light on the incident in question either, that did not sufficiently justify having not pursued them.
Sinistaj and others v. Montenegro (2015)
This case concerned alleged ill-treatment by a counterterrorist law enforcement agency. In the early morning hours of 9 September 2006 a special anti-terrorist unit arrested seventeen persons, including the applicants, on suspicion of associating for the purpose of anti-constitutional activities, preparing actions against the constitutional order and security of Montenegro, and illegal possession of weapons and explosives. The applicants claimed that from their arrest and during the next few days, during police detention as well as when being taken to the investigating judge, they were ill-treated with the aim of extorting statements. In particular, they were beaten, deprived of food, verbally abused, including on the basis of their ethnic origin, and threatened by police officers. The Second Section of the European Court of Human Rights noted
that the Government neither contested the existence of the injuries on the third applicant nor provided an explanation as to the origin thereof, but merely stated that they did not reach the necessary threshold to be considered torture or inhuman or degrading treatment. The only action undertaken thereupon was apparently the investigation of the Internal Police Control, which can be neither considered independent, given that it was done by the police themselves, nor thorough given that the third applicant, his complaints and the injuries observed in respect of him were completely ignored. There is nothing in the case file that would indicate that any other action was undertaken to clarify the origin of the third applicant’s injuries and identify the person responsible, let alone to prosecute him/her.
The Court found that the threshold of Article 3 had been reached and considered that there has been a violation of both the substantive and procedural limb of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the third applicant.