A new analysis by the Institute Alternative seeks to review and evaluate the practice of prosecutorial investigation in Montenegro.
Interdependence and cooperation of the Police Directorate and the State Prosecution Service is analyzed in the new report published by the Institute Alternative (IA).
The Criminal Procedure Code, which came into force on 26 August 2009, introduced the concept of prosecutorial investigation for the criminal offenses of organized crime, corruption, terrorism and war crimes.
The discussion about the police-prosecution cooperation has been going on for several years in Montenegro.
The IA 2014 survey on the topic of prosecutorial investigation showed significant dissatisfaction with this mechanism, among both the police officers and the judges. Survey repeated in 2016 shows that police officers, prosecutors, and judges agree that the prosecutorial investigation is more efficient than court investigation and that cooperation between the police and the prosecution was “largely good and characterized by mutual trust”. This positive attitude towards prosecutorial investigation has been repeated in a survey conducted by the IA in 2016 and presented in the new report.
However, the habit of shifting the responsibility for the lack of results in some areas onto the other side still remained. In particular, the issue of responsibility for the unresolved cases remained outstanding.
The official reports suggest that either crime in Montenegro was halved over the past ten years or the police were less proactive in detecting it. For instance, the number of recorded criminal offences in 2005 was 9,579, and was halved to 5,247 in 2015. It is particularly concerning that the official reports did not specify which criminal offences were effectively suppressed during this period.
One of the major problems is that prosecutors lead the work of the police, while not being sufficiently knowledgeable of their capacities and limitations, or crime investigation techniques, the IA stated in the report.
Dissatisfaction among the police, arising from the perception that powers had been taken away from them, was less present than before.
Additional problem is the fact that in a smaller number of cases, prosecutors expressed their interest to get more actively involved in the preliminary investigations. More often, prosecutors accepted the passive role of waiting in their offices for the police to fully clear up the case and bring the evidence to be presented in court.
IA recommends the development of a joint “internal” strategy of the police and the prosecution, which would reduce the share of unsolved criminal offences (with particular focus on the criminal reports), as well as seventeen other points that would greatly enhance the process of serving the justice through this mechanism.