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news 05 Sep 16

Montenegro Set to Sign Anti-Terror Protocol

Podgorica is to commit itself to the new anti-terror measures of the Council of Europe, designed to combat radicalism and fighting abroad.

Dusica Tomovic BIRN Podgorica
Montenegro's police have already tightened up security. Photo: Montenegrin police.

Montenegro this week will sign the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which parliament will then adopt in the following months.

The document obliges Montenegro to introduce new measures to prosecute and punish terrorism, especially in the terms of citizens planning to travel abroad to join extremist groups.

The protocol obliges the country to make travel or attempted travel to a third country with the “purpose of contributing to the commission of terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of training” a serious offence.

The state must also outlaw the funding organization or facilitation of such travels.

The report of the Justice Ministry on a need to adopt the protocol, which BIRN has seen, said it provides legal standards for the criminalisation at an international level of “participation in an association or group for the purpose of terrorism” and the receipt of training for terrorism.

“This harmonisation process is essential to enhance cooperation between states to efficiently implement counter-terrorism policies,” the ministry report explained.

The ministry also said that protocol imposes an obligation to establish a contact point in the police department for communication on a daily basis with the other signatory countries.

An estimated 13 Montenegrins have fought with Islamic State, ISIS, and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra in Syria and Iraq, according to a report presented to parliament in October 2014 by the National Security Agency.

Six are believed to be still fighting there and four are known to have been killed.

Last December, the government adopted a new national strategy to counter the risk of violent extremism and deter would-be jihadists from leaving for Syria and Iraq.
Montenegro also pledged to form a special team tasked with identifying and monitoring potential members of violent extremist groups.

The Council of Europe’s protocol, adopted in May 2015, seeks to promote implementation throughout Europe of a UN Security Council Resolution intended to combat the phenomenon of foreign fighters.

It makes various acts criminal offences, including intentional participation in a terrorist group, receiving terrorist training, traveling abroad for the purposes of terrorism and financing or organizing such travel.

The aim of the protocol is to harmonize legislation in Europe and facilitate cooperation between the member states of the Council of Europe.

The protocol also puts in place a network of national contact points available 24 hours a day, enabling information to be exchanged rapidly.

So far 23 European states signed the protocol in late 2015 and in the first months of this year. In the region they include Bosnia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Albania was the first European country to actually ratify the agreement, in June.

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Background

Western Balkans on Alert Over ISIS Threat

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of terrorist attacks by Islamic State.

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