PODGORICA — The public discussion among state institutions, regional initiatives, the international community and civil society is needed in order to improve the quality of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs in Montenegro.

The Western Balkans should use the EU accession process to adopt best international legislation and practices on police integrity, but also use public debate and civil society expertise to discuss region-specific experiences in dealing with common problems, it was concluded at the POINTPULSE conference “Fighting Police Corruption: Legal Solutions and Best Practices” on 1 of June 2017 in Podgorica, Montenegro.

Forthcoming adoption of the new Law on Internal Affairs in Montenegro served as a pretext for the representatives of civil society organizations and other regional initiatives from the Western Balkans to discuss most effective solutions for strengthening police integrity.

About 40 participants from media, civil society, international organizations and state institutions attended the conference.

Tomislav Ćurić from the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative presented the sources for best international standards for police integrity that every legal system should adopt and announced a new round of the GRECO anti-corruption evaluation for the COE countries.

“All countries from the region should prepare for the fifth round of the evaluation and work more on combating the perception of police corruption through raising the work standards and the profession reputation”, Ćurić said.

Dina Bajramspahić from Institute Alternative pointed to the main challenges in the functioning of the Montenegro police and presented recommendations the new Law on Internal Affairs needs in order to improve the integrity of the police.

“The forthcoming law is undoubtedly a most important contribution to advancing in Chapter 23 for Montenegro this year, and this conference should be a first step in fostering public debate on the new law”, said Bajramspahić.

Magdalena Lembovska from Analytica stressed the importance of public debate on the internal affairs issues and some of the good solutions from Macedonia.

“The Macedonian Law on Internal Affairs has nine articles that define the conduct of the police, which changed the principles of police conduct as ethical rules, and made them legally obligatory”, said Lembovska.

Sofija Mandić from Belgrade Centre for Security Policy highlighted the importance of using the EU integration process for influencing the public debate and explained the reach the civil society in Serbia had in regards to the new Law on the Police in 2016.

“Despite a number of adopted amendments that widened the mandate of internal control, and strengthened oversight and anti-corruption mechanisms, the minister retained the critical amount of power over the Internal Control Sector which prevents real depoliticization of the police”, said Mandić.

Mirela Hodović from Centre for Security Studies pointed to the discrepancies of the legal system(s) in Bosnia and Herzegovina that prevent effective control over the police.

“Bosnian Police Complaints Board cannot begin its work due to the paralysis in the election of the board members for some time now”, said Hodović.

Besjana Kuci from Institute for Democracy and Mediation confirmed that the biggest problem in Albania is still police dependence from the minister, but also emphasized some good solutions that improved the situation in the field of petty corruption.

“Introducing body-cams for traffic police units dramatically decreased the public perception of corruption for this part of the police”, said Kuci.

Plator Avdiu from Kosovar Centre for Security Studies shared the specific Kosovo experience in building police institutions from scratch.

“Kosovar Police Inspectorate proved to be a good solution for prosecuting the criminal offenses by the police, but it yet needs to prove itself by prosecuting high corruption cases”, said Avdiju.

TAGS: AdvocacyCivil SocietyConferenceEuropean AccessionExternal OversightMontenegroPanel DiscussionPodgoricaWestern Balkans