Montenegro gained independence in 2006, joined NATO in 2017, and continues progress toward EU membership. The establishment of an effective rule of law system in Montenegro remains an unfinished process due to the continued presence and strength of transnational criminal organizations and widespread, endemic corruption. The United States is a key strategic partner for Montenegro. Through our sustained partnership, the Montenegrin government is making a concerted effort to strengthen the rule of law.
INL is committed to implementing programs that fortify Montenegro’s democratic institutions. Our criminal justice assistance advances U.S. policy goals in the Western Balkans to continue Montenegro’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures for a more secure and prosperous Europe. Despite its NATO accession and continued progress toward EU membership, Montenegro faces significant domestic challenges in the law enforcement and criminal justice sectors involving organized crime and corruption. The United States and Montenegro also continue to share multilateral priorities in cyber, corruption, and drug control policy.
- Rule of Law – strengthen Montenegro’s democratic institutions and restore public confidence in the rule of law; strengthen independent institutions to combat kleptocracy and state capture.
- Civilian Security and Law Enforcement – strengthen investigations of organized crime groups and their linkages with corrupt public officials.
INL works with Montenegro’s law enforcement and criminal justice institutions to modernize and improve their operational effectiveness, as well as develop investigative and prosecutorial skills to fight crime and corruption and disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
INL’s rule of law program seeks to strengthen Montenegro’s democratic institutions and restore public confidence in the rule of law; strengthen the independence of justice sector institutions; and increase civil society’s involvement in criminal justice reform.
Through the law enforcement program, INL works to support the National Police Department to build their capacity to detect, investigate, and develop evidence of transnational criminal organizations and their linkages to public officials, as well as to join multilateral investigations of transnational criminal organizations.
- In 2023, INL played a key role in establishing, equipping, and training the new Special Police Unit, which supports the Office of the Special State Prosecutor. INL also supported the first undercover unit in Montenegro, which is now working closely with European and U.S. law enforcement partners and has seconded undercover agents to EU law enforcement agencies.
- In 2022, through INL assistance, Montenegro’s courtrooms are now connected via a fiberoptic network improving cyber security and enhancing courts’ overall productivity and communication.
- In 2022, INL-funded forensic laboratory equipment enhanced the Special Prosecution’s efficiency in conducting independent and confidential investigations, leading to a larger number of filed indictments against high-level officials. Prosecutors were able to recover previously inaccessible digital evidence relevant to suspected organized crime and corruption cases.
- In 2022, INL equipped three “smart courtrooms” used to prosecute high-level organized crime cases, which are used to adjudicate sensitive cases and include the capability of remote video testimony for foreign witnesses and special measures for protected witnesses such as video-scrambling.
- In 2022, INL assistance to Montenegro’s independent corruption prevention agency led to improved management controls, the agency’s alignment with internationally recognized management standards, and a more efficient and effective corruption prevention response as it manages campaign financing, public official asset declaration, and other preventive anti-corruption efforts.
- Through a partnership with the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and the Council of Europe (COE), INL assisted the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Sector of the National Police Department in establishing a Case File Management System. ICITAP provided a secure data network, storage, and workstations required to meet international standards for working with sensitive financial data, while the Council provided software for the system.
- INL provided specialized support and training to Montenegro on international financial investigations, including working with overseas financial centers. INL also provided analytical software and forensic equipment, which has been used successfully in the most complex organized crime cases in Montenegro.