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Montenegro: Extent of organized crime activities, including corruption in the police force or other government agencies; government response to these activities and state protection available to witnesses who testify against corrupt government employees (2005 - Aug. 2007)

Publisher Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 26 September 2007
Citation / Document Symbol MNE102414.E
Cite as Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Montenegro: Extent of organized crime activities, including corruption in the police force or other government agencies; government response to these activities and state protection available to witnesses who testify against corrupt government employees (2005 - Aug. 2007), 26 September 2007, MNE102414.E, available at: [accessed 18 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Organized crime

The Commission of the European Communities refers to organized crime as a "serious concern" in Montenegro (EU 8 Nov. 2006, 39). In a survey conducted by the Council of Europe's Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), Montenegrin authorities listed extortion, money laundering, illegal gambling, robbery, vehicle trafficking and prostitution as activities linked to organized crime (COE 13 Oct. 2006, 3, 4; ibid. Dec. 2005, 64). Reports also indicate that Montenegro serves as a transit-way for drug trafficking (US Mar. 2007), and a place where persons are trafficked to, from, and through (ibid. 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5; EU 8 Nov. 2006, 40).

According to the Council of Europe (COE), organized criminal activity is generally not violent in Montenegro (Dec. 2005). Nonetheless, in 2005 a police chief was murdered, allegedly because he was investigating a case related to organized crime (EU 8 Nov. 2006, 39; AP 26 Mar. 2007; Freedom House 2006, 3, 16).

According to a Montenegrin television report, the Director of Montenegro's Agency for National Security, Dusko Markovic, affirmed that organized crime is a threat to Montenegro (TV Crna Gora 19 Mar. 2007); however, in a 2006 speech, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic reportedly declared that "'organized crime is not significantly prominent in Montenegro'" (Mina News Agency 16 Oct. 2006). According to the President, the activities in the fight against organized crime have been successful (ibid.).


Corruption is considered to be a "widespread problem" in Montenegro by outside observers (EU 8 Nov. 2006, 11; Fortune Asian 4 Sept. 2006; Global Integrity 2006b; US Mar. 2007). Montenegrin authorities reportedly consider corruption to be a "'complex, extremely dangerous and widespread criminal phenomenon'" (COE 13 Oct. 2006, 3). Dragan Djurovic, Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister, has stated that corruption "is especially dangerous and devastating in the Police, Judiciary, Customs, and in similar Institutions..." (Montenegro 1 Nov. 2006). Two reports from the United States (US) Department of State also note concerns about corruption within the police and the judiciary (US 6 Mar. 2007, Secs. 1d-1e; ibid. Mar. 2007). The United States Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006 indicates that police corruption (and subsequent reluctance to report it) is a problem that is enabled by the "close-knit" nature of Montenegrin society (ibid. 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 1d).

Furthermore, several sources report that corruption is suspected to be a significant factor in the privatization of several state-owned industries in recent years (EU 8 Nov. 2006, 2, 27; Freedom House 2006, 17; Fortune Asian 4 Sept. 2006). International non-governmental observers are also critical that members of parliament can augment their salaries by serving as board members for state companies (Freedom House 2007, 327; Global Integrity 2006b; TI 3 Aug. 2006). Those observers have criticized the parliament's failure to amend the Law on Conflict of Interest, which enables this practice (Freedom House 2007, 327-328; Global Integrity 2006b; TI 3 Aug. 2006).

Government response

Bribery is illegal according to Articles 423 and 424 of Montenegro's Criminal Code (Montenegro 2004; COE 13 Oct. 2006, 4). In July 2005, the government approved the Strategy Against Corruption and Organised Crime; in August 2006, it approved an action plan for this strategy, including a commission and parliamentary committee to undertake specific measures by the end of 2008 (Freedom House 2007; Montenegro 1 Nov. 2006).

Montenegro has an Agency for Anti-Corruption (ibid. 1 Dec. 2006; COE 13 Oct. 2006, 6); moreover, its Department of Criminal Investigation has a Unit for Organised Crime as well as a Unit for Economic Crime (which includes corruption) (ibid., 7). In addition, there is one prosecutor, one deputy prosecutor and one office in the Supreme Court dedicated to fighting organized crime (EU 8 Nov. 2006, 9-10). The government also has a hotline to combat corruption among customs officials (ibid., 25), and it funds a phone line to aid potential victims of human trafficking (US 12 June 2007).

Media sources report that Montenegrin authorities have engaged with other states to address organized crime and corruption (Mina News Agency 30 Nov. 2006; ibid. 16 Nov. 2006; AP 16 Oct. 2006; ITAR-TASS 8 Sept. 2006). Montenegro is party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UN n.d.a; US Mar. 2007) and the UN Convention Against Corruption (UN n.d.b; US Mar. 2007). It also has memorandums of understanding with Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and the UN Mission in Kosovo regarding cooperation in fighting crime (ibid.) and with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, and Serbia regarding anti-corruption measures (Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe 13 Apr. 2007).

Freedom House reports that Montenegro's "public officials accept criticism from the international community and express a commitment to eliminate corruption, but the responsible institutions do not appear to be working together to fulfill these promises" (2007, 329). Global Integrity rated Montenegro's anti-corruption law as very strong, but rated its anti-corruption agency, rule of law and law enforcement as very weak (2006a). Several sources report that the Montenegrin government has made significant efforts to combat corruption, but they have criticized delays in implementation of reform (US 12 June 2007; Freedom House 2006, 1-2; EU 8 Nov. 2006, 3, 11; COE 13 Oct. 2006).

According to Nations in Transit 2007, a number of state company managers were charged with corruption in 2006; however, most cases are still under investigation, and none has resulted in a conviction or term of imprisonment (Freedom House 2007, 329). The same report indicates that "police and state prosecutors blame the judges for drawing out the investigation and procedures" (ibid). Cited in an article dated 13 November 2006, Montenegro's prosecutor for organized crime, Stojanka Radovic, asserted that 15 organized crime-related cases involving 90 persons had been processed since the inception of the special prosecutor's office [in 2004 (COE 13 Oct. 2006, 9)], but stated that court delays have prevented greater progress (Dan 13 Nov. 2006). In response, the President of the Supreme Court reportedly denied the assertion that the courts were working too slowly (Dan 14 Nov. 2006). In 2006, two government officials were charged in relation to alleged misconduct during the privatization of state-owned organizations (Global Integrity 2006b). Nations in Transit states that in "2006, high-level directors of three large, state-owned companies were charged with abusing their positions and causing financial damage to the country" (Freedom House 2007, 327). In January 2007, five people were charged with organized criminal activity, including human trafficking (Mina News Agency 14 Jan. 2007); in February 2007, four people were arrested for money laundering (Dan 14 Feb. 2007).

In April 2006, three citizens were found guilty of human trafficking (US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5). No further information on the verdicts rendered for organized crime could be found among the sources consulted within the time constraints of this Response.

Witness protection

According to Article 227 of Montenegro's Criminal Procedure Code, civil servants are required to report all cases of criminal offences, including corruption (Montenegro 2004; COE 13 Oct. 2006, 23). Nonetheless, the COE reports that there are no specific means to protect government employees who report corruption (ibid., 26).

Montenegro has a specific Law on Witness Protection Programme (Montenegro 16 June 2004). The COE reports that the law entered into force on 1 April 2005 (13 Oct. 2006, 7); however, Legislationline cites the date it entered into force as 2004 (29 June 2006b). According to Article 27 of the law, witness protection can include physical and "technical" protection, relocation, the concealment of identity and property, and change of identity (Montenegro 16 June 2004, 14; COE 13 Oct. 2006, 8). The COE reports that in 2005, only ten persons could be accommodated due to "financial and practical reasons" and that there were "a number of people" on the waiting list to enter into the program (13 Oct. 2006, 8).

In 2006, Montenegro participated in a regional discussion with neighbouring states with regard to witness protection (US Mar. 2007; Montenegro 2004). In July 2006, Montenegro signed a Witness Protection Relocation and Cooperation agreement with Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (US Mar. 2007).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press (AP). 26 March 2007. "Trial Opens in Montenegro in Police Chief's Murder in 2005." (Factiva)
_____. 16 October 2006. "7 Balkan States Sign Pact to Fight Terrorism and Organized Crime." (Factiva)

Council of Europe (COE). 13 October 2006. Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). Joint First and Second Evaluation Rounds: Evaluation Report on the Republic of Montenegro. [Accessed 2 July 2007]
_____. December 2005. Organised Crime Situation Report 2005. [Accessed 28 June 2007]

Dan [Podgorica, in Serbian]. 14 February 2007. "Montenegrin Police Arrest Four Suspected of Laundering 300,000 Euros." (BBC Monitoring 15 Feb. 2007/Factiva)
_____. 14 November 2006. "Montenegrin Supreme Court Head Denies Organized Crime Cases Processed Slowly." (BBC Monitoring 15 Nov. 2006/Factiva)
_____. 13 November 2006. "Montenegrin Organized Crime Prosecutor Pleased with Achievements So Far." (BBC Monitoring/Factiva)

European Union (EU). 8 November 2006. Commission of the European Communities. Montenegro 2006 Progress Report. [Accessed 2 July 2007]

Fortune [New York]. 4 September 2006. Jeremy Kahn. "Why Old Ways Die Hard in Montenegro." (Factiva)

Freedom House 2007. "Montenegro." Nations in Transit 2007. [Accessed 2 July 2007]
_____. 2006. "Serbia and Montenegro: Montenegro." Nations in Transit 2006. [Accessed 28 June 2007]

Global Integrity. 2006a. "Country Reports 2006: Montenegro Integrity Scorecard." [Accessed 28 June 2007]
_____. 2006b. Zoran Raedulovic. "Reporter's Notebook: Republic of Montenegro." [Accessed 28 June 2007]

ITAR-TASS [Moscow]. 8 September 2006. Mikhail Kozhemyakin. "Russia, Montenegro to Pool Efforts Against Crime, Terrorism." (Factiva)

Legislationline. 29 June 2006. "Criminal Legislation Reform in the Republic of Montenegro." [Accessed 11 July 2007]

Mina News Agency [Podgorica, in Serbian]. 14 January 2007. "Gang Caught in Bid to Smuggle Four Albanians Out of Montenegro." (BBC Monitoring 15 Jan. 2007/Factiva)
_____. 30 November 2006. "Montenegrin, Serbian Police to Boost Cooperation in Tackling Organized Crime." (BBC Monitoring/Factiva)
_____. 16 November 2006. "Montenegro, Sweden Agree Close Police Cooperation in Curbing Organized Crime." (BBC Monitoring/Factiva)
_____. 16 October 2006. "Montenegro Made Progress in Curbing Organized Crime, Terrorism – President." (BBC Monitoring/Factiva)

Montenegro. 1 December 2006. "Meeting Dedicated to the One Year of Implementing the Project on 'Strengthening Institutional Capacities of the Directorate for Anti-Corruption Initiative in Handling Reported Corruption Cases'." [Accessed 2 July 2007]
_____. 1 November 2006. "Monaco: Presentation by Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Montenegro, Mr. Dragan Djurovic at the 8th Yearly International Summit on Transnational Crime." [Accessed 29 June 2007]
_____. 16 June 2004. "Law on Witness Protection Programme." [Accessed 11 July 2007]
_____. 2004. Criminal Procedure Code. (Legislationline) [Accessed 10 July 2007]
_____. N.d. "The Republic of Montenegro Customs Administration." [Accessed 5 July 2007]

Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. 13 April 2007. "Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation in Fighting Corruption Through the South Eastern European Anti-Corruption Initiative." [Accessed 11 July 2007]

Transparency International (TI). 3 August 2006. "Montenegrin Parliament Continues to Avoid Conflict of Interest Law." [Accessed 15 Aug. 2007]

TV Crna Gora [Podgorica, in Serbian]. 19 March 2007. "Montenegrin Security Agency Chief Denies Organized Crime Linked with Government." (BBC Monitoring 20 Mar. 2007/Factiva)

United Nations (UN). N.d.a. United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. [Accessed 11 July 2007]
_____. N.d.b. United Nations Convention Against Corruption. [Accessed 11 July 2007]

United States (US). 12 June 2007. Department of State. "Montenegro (Tier 2)." Trafficking in Persons Report 2007. [Accessed 28 June 2007]
_____. 6 March 2007. Department of State. "Montenegro." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006. [Accessed 28 June 2007]
_____. March 2007. Department of State. "Montenegro." International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2007, Vol. I. [Accessed 5 July 2007]
_____. 22 September 2006. US Fed News. "U.S. Provides Training to Montenegrin Law Enforcement Officials For Detecting, Investigating Commercial Crime." (Factiva)

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