Parliamentary oversight of the police in Montenegro has taken a few steps backwards in 2016, it was concluded in the latest report on police integrity by Institute Alternative.
By Mateja Agatonović (BCSP) / Photo: Skupština Crne Gore
Montenegrin system of parliamentary oversight was characterized by lack of effort or cooperation with the public in 2016. Although some progress has been made, the oversight bodies have yet to achieve the necessary efficiency in the application of their powers.
Two main bodies for parliamentary oversight in Montenegro are the Security and Defense Committee and the Anti-Corruption Committee.
The Security and Defense Committee was more passive in controlling the work of the police in 2016 than in 2015. It met only six times (for the first time in May 2016), opposed to nineteen sessions it had in 2015. Of those six meetings, only two were related to the police work.
Throughout last year, the Committee on Security and Defense had failed to meet its statutory obligation to consider the reports on the work of the Ministry of Interior/Police Directorate.
The Committee adopted the Parliamentary Oversight Plan 2016 with a half-year delay, which also represents a violation of the existing law. The Parliamentary Oversight Plan is a document which sets out the work objectives, but also creates initial indicators based on which the work of the Committee can be assessed at the end of each calendar year. From the time the statutory obligation came to be, the Committee never managed to meet the set deadline.
The Committee also did not consider special reports on the police which could have been useful for better monitoring of police work, such as the Analysis of the Situation Concerning Admission, Promotion, Education and Training of Police Officers, which showed the weaknesses in the existing system of admission and promotion of police officers.
Committee failed to show interest in the reasons why the Minister of Interior in the Government of electoral confidence, Goran Danilović, proposed the dismissal of the Director of the Police Directorate. The Committee has been failing to oversee the application of secret surveillance measures used by the Police Directorate.
However, the Committee members have visited two sectors in 2016 within the Ministry of the Interior (MoI): the Directorate for Emergency Situations and the Border Police Sector. However, information about the visits to these institutions was not compiled in the form of a report of the Committee and did not contain conclusions, measures and recommendations.
As in the previous years, in 2016 the Committee organized one thematic control hearing of the Minister of Interior and the representatives of other institutions subject to its control – this time on the subject of unresolved murders in Montenegro. The Committee adopted four conclusions in which it stated the need to improve the capacity of the competent authorities and insisted on timely planning of funds for the improvement of material and human resources which would contribute to achieving better results. However, although the conclusions represent one of the most important instruments of direct impact on the state organs of the security and defense sector, their status has not been specifically defined in the Law on Parliamentary Oversight and they are not legally binding on the institutions.
Reporting on the conclusions is not precisely specified in the Law either. Opposition MPs in the Committee have tried to exercise their right to hold a control hearing at the request of one third of the members, but that was prevented as the invited representatives of the executive did not attend the scheduled meeting because they were unable to do so due to alleged inability.
Although, under Article 22 of the Law on Parliamentary Oversight of the Security and Defense, the Committee may impose a fine on those employed in the organs and institutions who fail to participate at a meeting even though their presence was requested by the Committee, the Committee never took additional action and the meeting was postponed until further notice. In 2015 and 2014 there were no initiatives of one third of the members of the Committee to hold control hearings.
The Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Corruption held five meetings in 2016, but none of them in connection to policing. Hearings were not conducted with any of the police representatives. The unfulfilled Work Plan encompassed a large number of measures which, in a systemic and horizontal manner, considered the risks of corruption in a number of areas, including the analysis and the work of competent judicial authorities and the police.
Recommendations for strengthening Parliamentary oversight concern not the codifications of new rules, but the upholding of existing ones: review of key strategic documents relating to the police by the Security and Defense Committee should become mandatory, Amend and supplement the Law on Parliamentary Oversight of the Security and Defense Sector to prescribe the obligation of supervised entities to report on the conclusions of the Committee by default, not upon a subsequent request of the Committee and define with greater precision the mechanism of visits to institutions. Information on such visits should be compiled and disclosed in the form of a report, together with conclusions and recommendations.