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The Police Directorate is the main law enforcement agency in Montenegro. Overall political responsibility for policing tasks lies within the Ministry of Interior.

By Dina Bajramspahić (IA), Ana Djurnić (IA), Aleksandra Vavić (IA) / Photo: Savo Prelević


Reforms of the Montenegrin Police have started nearly before the referendum on independence, in October 2005 when the new Law on Police was adopted. The Law established the police as an independent state authority, taken out from the Ministry of Interior, i.e. the former Public Security Sector of the Ministry of Interior became the Police Administration. However, this format retained only until 2012 when, by adopting the new Law on Internal Affairs, the police returned under the auspices of the Ministry.

This backgrounder presents the development of strategic planing within the Montenegrin police, thus the analysis on internal reorganization of the police, legal framework of the police and the Ministry of Interior in Montenegro, and finally institutional framework of police oversight.

Development of strategic planning

In December 2010 the Strategy for Development and Functioning of the Police for the period 2011-2013 has been adopted, followed by the Action plan (adopted in March 2011), which targeted key thematic areas for reform:

  • improvement of police organization;
  • standardization of police work;
  • improvement safety (including fight against corruption and organized crime);
  • strengthening the structural integrity of the police;
  • fostering human resources management, education and training within police.

By 2015, ten measures from the Action Plan have not been implemented, so the Government in February has extended the deadline for implementation of the Action Plan to the end of 2015, thus instructed the Ministry of Interior to prepare the new Strategy of Development of Internal Affairs 2016 – 2020 and the Action Plan for 2016.

Since the negotiation process between Montenegro and the European Union has officially began in June 2012, the strategic framework for numerous reform questions on the police work is more and more shifting to the level of negotiating structures, i.e. to the framework of the Action Plan for Chapter 23 “Judiciary and Fundamental Rights” and the Action plan for Chapter 24 “Justice, Freedom and Security” adopted in June 2013.[1]

These documents have defined a series of measures related to improving the police capacities, financially and administratively, strengthening human resources, promoting control and supervision over police and amending the series of legislative solutions related to the police work.

In 2013 the Police Administration has prepared Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment of Montenegro – SOCTA. The analytical presentation, the threat assessments, identified trends and assumed scenarios are intended to help the competent institutions and other relevant subjects to identify common priorities and prepare adequate responses to the expected challenges, by using Intelligence led policing model.

Internal reorganization of the police

Police reform processes have been aggravated and slowed down by numerous burdens remained from the former system. War environment during the nineties led to the serious undermining the system of the employees in the police, its overabundance and the decrease of professional standards for employment in the police. In September 2010 the Police Authority had 5313 employees, and 4684 of them were police officers. Also, it should be born in mind that, according to the first results of Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in 2011, there are 620029 inhabitants in Montenegro.

In order to solve the problem of fiscal unsustainable of excessive administration, in 2013 the Government has adopted the Public Sector Internal Reorganization Plan. The document states that, when it comes to the Internal Affairs Sector, collected data show that Montenegro has far highest number of police officers in comparison to the EU countries.

The Plan predicts reducing the number of officers in Police Administration to the number of 4287 by the end of 2017, which is 464 less officers comparing to 2013. However, it is of most importance to highlight that Governments’ Plan is not offering any analysis for this projection, so there is no argumentation that this is an optimal number of police officers.

In past two years reducing the number of police officers has been conducted through the institute of consensual termination of employment and retirement under special conditions, but also through the outsourcing for performing tasks that are not included into the basic activities of the state authority.

The data from the April 2015, collected by the Institute alternative, show that the Police Authority now has 4 203 employees, of whom 363[2] are women, which means that the Government’s Plan for reducing the number of employees has already been achieved, while the Ministry of the Interior has 872 employees, of whom 555 are women.

Number of employees of Police Administration in Montenegro

In March 2015 the new Rulebook on internal organization and systematization of the Ministry of Interior has been adopted. Particularly significant innovation is a Special Police Department established within the Criminal Police Department in order to act upon the instructions of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office, modeled on the Croatian “USKOK vertical”.

The new model aims to solve problems in communication between the police and Prosecutor’s Office and to contribute to the more efficient fight against corruption, particularly the high – leveled corruption, and organized crime.

Role of the police and police powers

The new Law on Internal Affairs from 2012 defines in details the purview of the police. As stipulated under the Article 10, the duties of the Police include:

  • protection of citizens’ safety and rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution;
  • protection of property;
  • prevention of commission and detection of criminal offences and misdemeanors;
  • locating perpetrators of criminal offences and misdemeanors and bringing them to the competent authorities;
  • maintaining public peace and order;
  • securing public gatherings of citizens;
  • protecting certain persons and facilities;
  • inspection control and controlling traffic safety;
  • border control;
  • control of movements and staying of foreigners;
  • providing conditions for the smooth functioning of courts, Public Prosecution Office and maintaining order;
  • providing conditions for custody of persons, and;
  • other duties laid down by law.

According to the Article 23 of the Law on Internal Affairs, the police powers are:

  • collection and management of personal and other data,
  • identification of persons and identification of objects,
  • summon,
  • arrest,
  • temporary restriction of the freedom of movement,
  • to give warnings and orders,
  • use of another’s personal mean of transport and communication,
  • temporary seizure of goods,
  • to stop and inspect persons and objects,
  • public promise of the reward,
  • recording on public places,
  • police observation,
  • use of coercive means,
  • undertaking undercover police actions.

Organisational and territorial model of the police

Functionally, organisational units of the Police Administration at the central level, in accordance with the new Rulebook on internal organisation, are:

Organizational units within Police Administration

The overview of the police officers according to the territorial structure of the Police Administration – Centres (8) and Departments (13) of Security before the new Rulebook on Internal Organisation and Systematization:

Regional Security Police Unit

Below is an overview of the number of employees at the Border Police Sector before the adoption of the new Rulebook on internal organization. The Sector had 22 organizational units, of whom 7 departments, 11 stations of the border police and 3 stations of the maritime border police:

Border Police

Role of the Ministry of Interior

The Ministry of Interior carries out the tasks related to:

  • analytical monitoring of operations and strategic planning in the fight against crime, public order, traffic safety and other areas of police work and actions, instructive action for implementation of strategies and policies in these areas;
  • supervision and internal control over the performance of police duties and procedures, professionalism, legality and efficiency of the police work;
  • proposing, monitoring and implementation mechanisms for combating human trafficking,
  • citizenship, travel documents, immigration, asylum, naturalization, identity cards, residence in relation to this keeping of registers;
  • personal identification number, name, civil registers;
  • records of vehicles and drivers;
  • procurement of weapons and weapon parts; transportation of weapons, military equipment and dual-use goods by land and water
  • protection of personal data;
  • production, trade and transport of explosive materials; traffic, transport and storage of flammable liquids and gases; transportation of hazardous, non-flammable liquids and gases, transport of explosives;
  • risk management, management of protection and rescue in emergency situations management and relief in the extraordinary situations (earthquakes, fires and other natural and technical and technological disasters);
  • civil protection tasks as part of an integrated disaster management system; state administration of the organization, mode of operation, management, responsibilities, relationships, cooperation, openness and transparency of public administration bodies;
  • the area of civil servants relations, office management, general administrative procedure and inspection;
  • inspection in the area of the competences and powers as prescribed by regulations on the system of state administration, labor relations in state administration and local self-government and administrative decision;
  • non-governmental organizations, political parties, the register of religious communities, the stamps of state bodies
  • organization and authority of local governments, functioning and implementation of regulations in the area of local government of this Ministry, the territorial organization of local self-government, international cooperation of local government with the local governments of other countries;
  • the implementation of the international treaties which fall into the scope of the Ministry’s competencies
  • giving opinions on Draft laws and other regulations or general acts pertaining to matters related to the state administration and local government, as well as the draft laws governing exceptions to the general administrative procedure;
  • state border security; integrated border management, organization and financing of construction, reconstruction, modernization and maintenance of border crossings; the boundary line in the remit of the Ministry; development of a strategy of medium-term programs and annual plans for border crossings; leasing facilities or parts of facilities at border crossings;
  • harmonization of national legislation within its competence with the acquis of the European Union; cooperation with international and regional organizations;
  • keeping the registers;
  • administrative supervision in the areas for which the Ministry is competent, and other activities that are defined in its jurisdiction. 

Accountability and oversight of the police

Over the years, complete oversight system over police was developed, including internal control as well as external: parliamentary oversight, civic control, independent institutions oversight (Ombudsman, Agency for Personal Data Protection, State Audit Institution), as well as disciplinary and ethic responsibility. However, practice of oversight is still not on the satisfactory level.

Police control and oversight in Montenegro
Police control and oversight in Montenegro

Internal control

The internal control of the Police is being carried out by the special organisational unit in the Ministry of Interior – Internal Control of the Police Department. The aim of the police internal control unit is to conduct assessment of legality of police work, particularly in terms of respecting and protecting human rights when executing police tasks and exercising police powers, implementing counterintelligence protection operations and other control procedures significant for efficient and legal work.

The authorized officer performing internal control acts on his own initiative, based on the notifications and other information, proposals, complaints and applications of individuals and police officers, proposals and conclusions of the competent committee of the Parliament, recommendations of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro and the analysis of the assessments and recommendations of the Council (Article 117 of the Law on Internal Affairs).

It is prescribed by the Law, that the authorized officer shall have all the powers of a police officer. In the performance of internal control he is specifically authorized to inspect the records, documents and data collections gathered, compiled or issued by the police in accordance with its responsibilities. He is also authorized to take statements from police officers, injured persons and citizens, to require the police and police officers submission of other data and information from their competence which are required for the conduct of internal control, to inspect the official premises used by Police in their work, require certificates and technical and other information on the technical means used by the police, as well as evidence of the ability of police officers to use technical and other means used in their work.

The Law stipulates the obligation for the police officer to allow the authorized officer exercising control, as well as to provide the necessary professional and other assistance, whereby the authorized officer shall not affect the flow of certain police action or otherwise interfere with the work and jeopardize the confidentiality of police action (Article 118, paragraph 2 and 3 of the Law on Internal Affairs). On the other hand, the Law also prescribes that a police officer may temporarily, pending the decision of the Minister, but no longer than 24 hours, refuse to allow the inspection of the official premises or information and data, if there is a danger that the conduct of internal police control could prevent or significantly aggravate the use of police powers under the Law on Internal Affairs or endanger life and health of persons who apply them.

Parliamentary oversight

Parliamentary oversight in the area of the security and defence is regulated by a special Law on Parliamentary Oversight of Security and Defence Sector prescribing the responsibilities and control mechanisms of the Security and Defence Committee.[3] When it comes to conducting oversight of the Police, the Law prescribes that the Committee considers the conduct of this authorities in terms of legality, organises control and consultative hearing and parliamentary investigation, analyse reports on the application of the of secret surveillance measures, considers the proposed budget for the Police as well as the final accounts and the audit report of the State Audit Institution for the Police, and considers the nomination of candidates for the Director of Police.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, the Committee on Anticorruption can run all the control mechanisms prescribed by the Rule of Procedure, but also has an authority to:

  • exercise oversight and analyse the work of state authorities, institutions, organizations and bodies engaged in the fight against corruption and organized crime;
  • examine the issues and problems in the implementation of laws, strategies and action plans in area of the fight against corruption and organized crime;
  • propose measures for the improvement of strategies, action plans and other documents related to the fight against corruption and organised crime;
  • consider petitions and refers them to the competent authorities.[4]

Council for Civilian Control of Police

Civilian Control of Police is being performed by the Council for Civil Control of Police and was established by the Law on Internal Affairs which prescribes its jurisdiction. The Council is the body that assesses the use of police powers regarding the protection of human rights and freedoms. Both citizens and police officers can address the Council.

The Council consists of five members, of whom one shall be appointed by the: Bar Association of Montenegro, Montenegrin Medical Chamber, Association of Lawyers of Montenegro, University of Montenegro and non-governmental organizations engaged with human rights. President of the Council shall be elected by a majority vote of all members. The mandate of the members shall be five years. President of the Assembly initiates the procedure for appointing members of the Council by referring the invitation to the subjects authorised to appoint their representatives. Professional affairs for the Council shall be performed by the Parliamentary Service. The Council’s work is further prescribed by the Rules of Procedure.

In accordance with the Law on Internal Affairs, the Police Administration is obligated to, at the request of the Council, provide the necessary information and notifications. The Council provides reviews and recommendations that are being submitted to the Minister. Minister is obligated to inform the Council about the undertaken measures.

State Audit Institution

During the audit procedure for all state authorities, including the Police Administration, the State Audit Institution (SAI):

  • performs examination of the documents, transactions, internal control and internal audit systems, accounting and financial procedures and other records of the audited entities with aim to ensure whether financial statements are true, objective and prepared in compliance with accepted accounting standards;
  • determines regularity of the financial and other activities of the audited entities with aim to evaluate compliance with applicable laws and other regulations;
  • determines performance of the level of the achievement of the set objectives of the operations or of a specific financial transaction, programmes, projects, usage of human, financial and other resources of the audited entities as well as the ratio between the planned and achieved effects of the objectives and results.

The audit shall be performed in a way and in accordance with the procedures determined by the framework of the auditing standards of the International organization of supreme audit institutions and the professional Code of Ethics.[5]

By amendments to the Law on Secrecy of Data, State Audit Institution was granted access to classified information without seeking special permission, so that in future it could carry out the audit and documentation of the police that is under marked “secret”.

Agency for the Protection of Personal Data and the Free Access to Information and Ombudsman

The Agency and the Ombudsman, besides the SAI, are another two independent bodies that have oversight authority over the Police, in the field of protection of personal data and the free access to information, and Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms in the field of human rights and legality of the actions of the police. Both institutions have the right to inspect secret data without obtaining special permission for access to classified information.

Ethics Committee and Disciplinary Commission

Ethics Committee monitors the implementation of the Code of Police Ethics in accordance with the Law on Internal Affairs, and exercise jurisdiction determined by the Code of Police Ethics. The Ethic Committee consists of seven members, four of which are representatives of the Ministry of Interior – Police Administration, one representative of the Ministry of Interior, one representative of NGOs and one representative of the Syndicate of the Police Administration.

The mission of the Ethics Committee is based on the principles of the European Code of Police Ethics adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 19 September 2001. Ethic Committee of the Ministry of Interior – Police Administration was established on February 26, 2006.

The Disciplinary Commission of the Ministry of Interior has been established by the decision of the Minister from 24 September 2013, and in accordance with Article 19 of the Regulation on determining disciplinary responsibility of police officers.[6]

Disciplinary proceedings for a serious violations of official duty, is being conducted by the Council of the Disciplinary commission, authorised by the Minister. The Council of the Disciplinary Commission is being established by the Minister’s decision for each case separately, on the proposal of the President of the Disciplinary Commission. Minister also determines the list and appoints the members of the Disciplinary Commission for each calendar year.


[1] The Chapters have been officially opened in December 2013.

[2] Response on the Request for free access to information, Montenegro, Ministry of Interior, Department for personal data protection and free access to information OB No. UPI – 007 /L5-L897 /3 Podgorica, 06. 04. 2O15.

[3] Law on Parliamentary Oversight of Security and Defence Sector, Official Gazette of the Republic of Montenegro, no. 80/2010.

[4] Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Montenegro, Official Gazette of the Republic of Montenegro, no. 59/2013.

[5] Article 5 of the Law on State Audit Institution, Official Gazette of the Republic of Montenegro, no. 28/2004.

[6] Article 19 of the Regulation on determining disciplinary responsibility of police officers, no. 31/2013.

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