Alternative sanctions and probation in Montenegro

Study The system of alternative sanctions and probation in Montenegro – legal framework and the transition process from imprisonment to re-integration into society is the project activity of our member organisation Juventas, as a partner of the project to strengthen probation and alternative sanctions in Montenegro and Serbia. The project was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands. The main goal is to contribute to improved security in communities, reducing the rates of returnee and more efficient application of alternative sanctions.

The first part of the study contains an overview of the institutional and legal framework of the probation system and alternative sanctions in Montenegro, with special reference to parole, conditional condemnation and conditional condemnation with protective surveillance. Also, special attention is paid to comparative analysis, with Serbia, Croatia and Switzerland systems.

The second part of the study deals with the transition from imprisonment to re-integration into society. The focus is at the regulation of this transition in the Montenegrin legislative framework, and then follows the description of that process from the point of view of the persons who have passed through that process. The study provides a kind of insight into the functioning of the criminal sanction execution system and underlines both good and quality sides, and those that need to be improved in the coming period.

The aim was to analyze this process, identify legal solutions, practical implications, positive things, but also shortcomings, and all the endeavor to create a kind of road map that all relevant actors in this area must follow to improve it.

The roadmap is a proposal for concrete steps to be taken to correct the identified deficiencies in the system and practical functioning, and to make the system of alternative sanctions, the probation system and transition through the criminal sanctions of the criminal sanctions better and post-penalty acceptance more efficient.

During the preparation of the study, cooperation was established with many institutions, without whom authors would not be able to obtain data. Juventas thanks the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro, the Department of Criminal Sanctions, the Directorate for Conditioning, and the Center for Social Work in Podgorica.

Thanks also go to the expert term from the Helsinki Committee of the Netherlands, which supported the entire work on the study and gave significant suggestions and advice.

Juventas are especially grateful to all prisoners and former prisoners whose sincere testimonies in the situation in practice was extremely important for making a study and enabled important data to make the road map.

The Study is available following this link>>>.


Call for experts on treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment

The Vienna and New York NGO Committees on Drugs (VNGOC & NYNGOC) are looking for four civil society Experts on treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment. The experts with substantive experience on the topic, who can make a meaningful contribution to the identification of key aspects of diversion to healthcare at the various stages of the criminal justice continuum. They are expected to contribute to the production of guidance by UNODC on ‘drug use disorder treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system’.

The UNODC-WHO initiative on Treatment and Care for People with Drug Use Disorders in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Alternatives to Conviction or Punishment was launched in line with the Commission on Narcotic Drug’s (CND) resolution 58/5 on “supporting the collaboration of public health and justice authorities in pursuing alternative measures to conviction or punishment for appropriate drug related offences of a minor nature”. The aim is to promote the collaboration of justice and health authorities on alternative measures to conviction punishment for appropriate drug-related offences of a minor nature, especially with a view to people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system. In this context a handbook has been published in 2019 which has been jointly developed by UNODC PTRS, UNODC’s Justice Section and WHO.

As a follow up, now in 2021, UNODC/PTRS is aiming to develop additional guidance on drug use disorder treatment and care as an alternative to conviction or punishment for people with drug use disorders in contact with the criminal justice system, from the pre-arrest stage to the post-sentencing stage. UNODC/PTRS, with the support of experts (e.g. professionals, scientific experts, civil society, etc.) from all regions, aims to identify principles to support the effective implementation of treatment as an alternative at the various stages of the criminal justice system. Different professional groups/settings at each stage of the criminal justice continuum to be considered will include:

  1. Measures at pre-arrest stage (e.g., the role of law enforcement etc in deflection, diversion, administrative sanctions etc.)
  2. Measures at pre-trial stage (e.g., caution, conditional bail, conditional dismissal with referral to education or treatment etc.)
  3. Measures at trial/sentencing stage (e.g., postponement of sentence, deferring the execution of the sentence, diversion using specialized courts, probation/judicial supervision through probation officers etc.)
  4. Measures at post-sentencing stage (e.g., early release, parole, pardon with an element of treatment through parole officers etc.)

Expert consultations will continue throughout 2021 in different formats. Consultations will be conducted in English and interpretation will not be provided. More information on how and when input can be best provided will be shared with the selected experts.

If you wish to be considered for nomination please fill out the online application form and submit it no later than 6 June 2021, 11.55 p.m. CEST.


A call for decriminalization of simple possession

The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which oversees compliance with the three international drug control conventions, recently issued an alert regarding policies on drug-related offenses.

In the announcement, the Board advocates for the decriminalization of simple possession, underscoring that “There is no obligation stemming from the conventions to incarcerate drug users who commit minor offences.”

In many countries, writes the Board, the “policies to address drug-related criminality, including personal use, have continued to be rooted primarily in punitive criminal justice responses,” such as prosecution and incarceration. Meanwhile, “alternative measures such as treatment, rehabilitation and social integration remain underutilized.”

The INCB also points to the discretion that is at each country’s disposal, noting that though Member States “have an obligation under the drug control conventions to establish certain behaviours as punishable offences,” that responsibility is subject to their Constitutions. Furthermore, when it comes to “minor drug-related offences including possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use . . . the conventions do not oblige States to adopt punitive responses.”

You can read the full alert following this link>>>