Montenegro
Head of state
Filip Vujanović
Head of government
Igor Lukšić
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
Population
0.6 million
Life expectancy
74.6 years
Under-5 mortality
9 per 1,000

Verdicts in war crimes cases were inconsistent with international law. Defamation was decriminalized. Roma from Kosovo remained without personal documentation.

Background

In December, the European Council agreed that talks on Montenegro’s accession to the European Union could begin in June 2012. They requested the European Commission to report on the implementation of measures related to the rule of law and fundamental rights, including combating corruption and organized crime.

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International justice

Verdicts in war crimes cases were inconsistent with international human rights and humanitarian law. Senior officials were rarely indicted.

  • In April, the retrial began of six former Yugoslav People’s Army reservists, convicted in 2010 of war crimes against prisoners of war in Morinj camp in 1991-2. This followed an appeal by the prosecution, which argued that the court had failed to consider the charges of war crimes against civilians detained in Morinj who had also been subject to torture and inhumane treatment.
  • In June, appeals were lodged against the acquittal in March of nine former police officers and government officials who allegedly participated in the enforced disappearance of 79 Bosniak refugees in May and June 1992. They were acquitted of war crimes on the basis of the Podgorica Superior Court’s flawed interpretation of international humanitarian law.
  • Also in June, the December 2010 verdict acquitting seven army and police reservists of crimes against humanity in their systematic ill-treatment of Bosniak civilians in Bukovica in 1992-3 was overturned on appeal.
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Torture and other ill-treatment

The Law on the Ombudsperson, adopted in July, empowered the Ombudsperson’s Office to act as the National Preventive Mechanism, with authority to conduct unannounced visits to places of detention, in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. The Ombudsperson reported in July on overcrowding and inadequate detention conditions in almost all police stations. In November, six NGOs were authorized by the Ministry of Justice to monitor prisons and other institutions for possible violations including torture and other ill-treatment.

  • Spuž prison management disciplined only three of 15 prison officers identified in a security video showing the ill-treatment of prisoners Igor Milić and Dalibor Nikezić in 2009.
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Unlawful killings

In May, police officer Zoran Bulatović fatally shot Aleksandar Pejanović, allegedly after an argument. The trial was ongoing at the end of the year.

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Freedom of expression

Defamation was decriminalized in June; the Supreme Court had ruled in March that levels of non-pecuniary compensation in such cases should not exceed European Court of Human Rights standards. Journalists continued to receive threats.

  • In July and August, there were three arson attacks on four company cars belonging to the newspaper Vijesti.

In June, the Administrative Court annulled the Ministry of Justice’s 2010 decision prohibiting the NGO Human Rights Action from accessing information on the investigation of 14 human rights cases. However, the NGO had still not received the information by December. The cases included unresolved political killings and attacks on journalists and human rights defenders.

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Discrimination

The Ombudsperson’s Office began to review complaints under the Anti-Discrimination Law in August but lacked experienced staff. Twenty complaints were submitted in 2011.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

In March, youths attacked an anti-homophobia concert with tear gas; two people were later assaulted. Organizers cancelled the Podgorica Pride planned for March; the Minister for Human and Minority Rights had refused to support the Pride and continued to make homophobic remarks. He was removed from office at the end of the year.

Roma

Based on national census data, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, estimated that at least 4,312 people, 1,600 of whom were predominantly Roma refugees, were at risk of statelessness.

Montenegro’s implementation of the Strategy to Improve the Status of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Population was identified as a priority by the European Commission, but municipalities were slow to use funds allocated for Roma housing.

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Refugees and asylum-seekers

Approximately 9,367 internally displaced people, including 2,994 Roma and Ashkali from Kosovo, and 3,504 displaced persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, remained in Montenegro. Only 54 returned to Kosovo in 2011.

By 29 December, from 3,780 internally displaced people who applied, 1,957 acquired the status of “foreigner with permanent residence”. Only around 150 Kosovo Roma met the November application deadline, which was extended until December 2012; few possessed personal documentation, including passports, required to obtain residency.

Under an Action Plan agreed with the European Commission to provide durable solutions for Roma and Ashkali from Kosovo, plans were developed to demolish camps at Konik in Podgorica and replace them with adequate housing.

Only three out of 235 asylum-seekers, mostly from north Africa, were granted subsidiary protection.

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  • Amnesty International delegates visited Montenegro in December.