The POINTPULSE is not satisfied with the current level of cooperation between police services and independent state institutions in charge to protect the interests of the public.
In general, an ombudsman is an independent regulatory body, a state institution or official appointed by the Parliament in order to protect the interests of the citizen and to oversee the investigation of complaints of improper government activity.
Ombudsman institutions in the region stand on “solid legal footing”. Failure is government’s inability and unwillingness to comply with the ombudsman’s recommendations or inquiries which limits their efficiency.
There are three worrying trends.
Police brutality was most visible to the domestic and international public in the past years. The most problematic are cases in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro.
Police violence is one of the most often breaches of rights in Albania, according to the People’s Advocate. In his annual reports, the issue of excessive use of force by police is recognized as the largest problem. In 2016, the Ombudsman received 17 complaints more than 2015 on the work of the police which is an increase of 11%.
Montenegro is another example of excessive use of force by the police. The problem is the lack of compliance of the Ministry of Interior with the recommendations of the Ombudsman. Even when the Ombudsman finds that the police have violated human rights, these proceedings fail to have an adequate epilogue.
The Ombudsman in Macedonia has assessed that police brutality has increased in 2016 in regard to previous year. In the same line, the Ombudsman filed several criminal charges against police officers for possible police brutality. Two charges were rejected by the Prosecution.
The number of citizen’s complaints against the police is increasing in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Serbia.
In 2016, the largest number of citizens’ complaints filed to the institution in charge of handling human rights violations was in Serbia – 6272 complaints in total. These numbers should correspond to the population of the country – and they do in all cases except for Bosnia and Herzegovina (2977) – which comes after Albania (5512) and Macedonia (3775). Least complaints were filed in Kosovo (1694) and Montenegro (894).
Numbers of complaints regarding police work reflect the total number – it is largest in Serbia, with 222 complaints, and smallest in Montenegro with 52.
However, percentage-wise, it is an inverse proportion: the highest percentage of complaints towards police on record is in Montenegro, where 5.8% of all complaints were filed against police, next is Kosovo (4.7%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (4.6%), and followed by Macedonia and Serbia (3.5% each). The lowest percentage of complaints regarding policing is recorded in Albania, where only 3% are tied to the Ministry of interior or the police.
Cooperation between the police services and ombudsman institutions in the region is not satisfied.
Ministry of the Interior in Serbia didn’t show the necessary level of cooperation with the Ombudsman in the past few years. Evident cases of systemic failures of the police have not been properly investigated because the mechanism for ensuring the implementation of the Ombudsman’s recommendations does not work. These recommendations are binding but are impossible to enforce without the active support of the Government.
Levels of insufficient cooperation with institutions that are responsible for processing any improper police behavior is also detected in Macedonia. Constant advocacy for the reform of police control mechanisms by Ombudsman remains on the sidelines because of an insufficient number of resources and staff. Only one person is dealing with cases of police misconduct.
Kosovo Police has intensified collaboration with the Ombudsperson through joint meetings of the heads of the two institutions. However, the mechanism of complaints inside the police service is still not adequate, as the number of complaints filed against superior officers for human rights violations is practically nonexistent.
The Ombudsmen in Bosnia and Herzegovina can only issue recommendations that are not binding for the institutions to which they relate.
The POINTPULSE agree that existing laws should be fully implemented to ensure that external authorities are allowed to carry out independent investigations in cases of police misconduct and to make their recommendations binding.
- Limited Parliamentary Oversight of the Police in the Western Balkans
- The Assessment of Police Integrity in Albania 2016
- The Assessment of Police Integrity in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2016
- The Assessment of Police Integrity in Kosovo 2016
- The Assessment of Police Integrity in Macedonia 2016
- The Assessment of Police Integrity in Montenegro 2016
- The Assessment of Police Integrity in Serbia 2016