On 24-25 May CILC organised a second meeting on the use of community service sentences for a new group of Montenegrin first instance criminal judges. This meeting focused on the tasks and duties of the probation service, the necessity of pre-trial advice, the formulation of community service sentences, and the practical implementation of these sentences by the probation service. These topics were introduced by CILC project manager Lino Brosius and legal experts Rutger Wery – judge of the court of appeal of Arnhem/Leeuwarden – and Leo Tigges – former operational director of the Dutch probation service and former secretary-general of the Confederation of European Probation (CEP).
The discussion showed that Montenegrin judges need to take good care to prevent their community service sentences from missing their mark. The Montenegrin Criminal Code limits the implementation period for a community service sentence to 6 months, whereas the maximum amount of hours that can be imposed is 360 (9 weeks). Moreover, judges in Montenegro have the opportunity to introduce aggravating terms, including the formulation of an even shorter implementation period for the community service work. In that way, a community service sentence can easily become as disruptive as a prison term.
On 26 and 27 May the project organised a meeting with representatives from various municipalities in Montenegro on the challenges and benefits of providing work places for offenders with a community service sentence. The probation service is a relatively new institution in Montenegro and there still is little awareness about its role, tasks and responsibilities.
The two-day meeting focused on the opportunities for municipalities to benefit from providing work places to offenders sentenced to a community service sentence. Dutch probation experts Jochum Wildeman and Frans Clobus presented the work practices in the Netherlands, Predrag Krsmanovic gave an overview of the work processes of the Montenegrin probation service, and Marela Savic of child care home Mladost in Bijela and Branka Delevic of the main hospital in Berane presented on successful and failed community service implementations in their organisations.
CILC and its partner organisation, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, will organise additional meetings in Montenegrin municipalities to further increase awareness about the opportunities of community service sentences. Other activities for the coming months include the development of a module on probation and the community service sentence for the Montenegrin Judicial training Centre, working meetings with Basic Court prosecutors, and risk assessment trainings for probation and penitentiary staff.
This bilateral Dutch-Montenegrin project is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.