U.S. Department of State assistance to Montenegro is tailored to advance Montenegro’s progress towards membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). Working in partnership with key criminal justice officials and stakeholders, the State Department supports Montenegro’s efforts to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate organized crime cases by introducing modern investigative and prosecutorial procedures. Embassy Podgorica’s rule of law assistance also supports police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, citizens, and judicial officials in learning their new roles and responsibilities under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Embassy Podgorica’s rule of law programs support Montenegro’s transition to a more effective criminal justice system, including key areas for rule of law reform that comply with the EU’s membership criteria contained in Chapters 23 & 24 of the Acquis Communautaire. Embassy Podgorica’s criminal justice assistance programs are funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Currently, INL has two programs in Montenegro: (1) the justice sector reform program implemented by an INL Resident Legal Advisor. This program also includes a civil society component; and (2) a law enforcement reform effort program implemented by the U.S. Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program (ICITAP). These State Department-funded programs partner with key Montenegrin criminal justice actors to provide targeted technical assistance, training, mentoring and equipment donations. INL U.S. rule of law assistance is provided through a yearly bilateral Letter of Agreement signed by the Minister of Justice and the U.S. Ambassador. This document lays out mutually agreed upon rule of law priorities and objectives.
Overall Program Goals
- To support Montenegro’s efforts to promote and sustain effective judicial reforms, including developing legislation to combat organized crime and corruption and other forms of serious crime;
- To improve Montenegro’s capacity to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate organized crime and other criminal cases;
- To assist police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judicial officials for their roles and responsibilities as envisaged in the new CPC;
- To promote the re-organization of the Montenegrin Police Directorate;
- To increase citizens’ engagement in criminal justice reform efforts.
Justice Sector Program
In October 2008, INL programming was implemented by the Department of Justice and the first full-time Resident Legal Advisor (RLA) was deployed to Montenegro. In 2010, this program transitioned to a State Department implemented program, which consists of an American legal advisor and three Montenegrin specialists. Key focal areas of the justice sector assistance program include: (1) ensuring proper implementation of the new CPC; (2) introducing modern prosecutorial procedures and techniques as a means to combat organized crime, corruption, and other serious offenses; and (3) institutionalizing educational opportunities for justice sector actors. Specifically, the program supports the Office of the Special Prosecutor by improving their capacity to investigate and prosecute. Furthermore, the program seeks to build the institutional capacity of the Center for Training in Judiciary and State Prosecution (CTJP), which has the responsibility of training judges and prosecutors. Attention is being paid to developing a cadre of local trainers and improving the management of the CTJP.
The policing program currently consists of two Police Advisors and two local staff. The advisors support the National Police Directorate’s reform of the overall infrastructure to make the police agency more efficient and cost effective. This strategy is focused on improving core competencies and implementing a strategic plan that allocates the Directorates’ resources to priority areas identified by the European Commission.
One of the U.S. government’s key goals for Montenegro is to assist in introducing solid governing practices and to help build accountable institutions. One way the U.S. Embassy is seeking to do this is to encourage Montenegrin citizens to be active in criminal justice reform efforts. Embassy Podgorica introduced in 2013 a new grants program with focus on criminal justice. This program, supervised by the Resident Legal Advisor office, is designed to increase civil society knowledge of and engagement in criminal justice reform efforts by serving as watchdog organizations, advocating for policy changes and educating citizens of their rights and responsibilities. Small and medium grants are awarded under this program. For more information, please see Criminal Justice Grants Program section.