Local self-goverments should be more proactive in the provision of information

Only direct and open discussions about difficulties that citizens of Montenegrin municipalities are facing when asking for certain information about work of the same, but also by having insight into how local administration is working and what are its limitations when it comes to improving transparency of work of municipality itself, can altogether help in understanding but also strengthen consistent application of the Law on Free Access to Information, as it was concluded today at the roundtable I have the right to know, organized by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) in Podgorica.

During the opening session, Mira Popović, CCE programme associate, pointed out that „local self-governments record modest performance in the area of openess and transparency, and there is no tenable justification for such conditions“. Furthermore, she pointed out the efforts of civil society to be critical and a constructive correctiv, identifying, reacting and indicating insufficiencies of system but also offering recommendations for transformation into a true and open society. „However, if our efforts are not recognized by public sector organs, in this case municipalities that can undertake necessary steps in resolving identified problems, we will continue to spin around in a vicious circle of non-transparency“, she concluded.

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Citizens may be essential in fight against corruption

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), has, from 4 to 13 October, organized discussions with citizens in eight Montenegrin municipalities on corruption at the local level during which promotional material was distributed that presented what corruption represents, as well as which and what inflictions it has on society itself.

Citizens of Pljevlja, Bijelo Polje, Podgorica, Kotor, Niksic, Ulcinj, Bar and Cetinje had the opportunity during this action to get informed on various forms of corruption in all areas and at all levels of social life – in private, public, academic, civil and political sector. Furthermore, this action sought to indicate that awareness on outspread and effectiveness of corruption has eroded the trust in functionality and justification of most legal, social, economic, political, cultural, religious, scientific and educational institutions of society. What was particularly emphasized during these discussions is that corruption has become a «normalized» part of everyday life in Montenegrin society, as well as a complex and dispersed chain of abuse of all social institutions as a tool for gaining profit and power of the privileged ones. CCE has conducted discussions with citizens in the cooperation with NGO Bonum from Pljevlja, NGO Civic Creative Centre from Cetinje, NGO UL Info from Ulcinj and NGO Mladiinfo Montenegro from Nikšić. Material that has been disseminated to citizens is available in electronic form at: http://cgo-cce.org/izdavastvo/demokratija-izdavastvo/#.WeHN6xOCzOQ.

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PWD still in unequal position in access to labour market

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) has today, in the framework of the project “Employment to Inclusion”, presented findings of the Public opinion research on perception of persons with disabilities (PWD) in the process of employment.

Marija Cimbaljevic, CCE project assistant, reminded that within this project eight persons with disabilities (PWDs) from Podgorica, Danilovgrad and Nikšić went through training on communication skills and human rights, with emphasis on labour rights, after which they had the opportunity to further professionally improve and apply acquired knowledge in seven non-governmental organizations and in the institution of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro through six-month paid work engagement. ”In addition, within project activities, an access ramp at the entrance to the residential business facility Maxim was installed as contribution to reduction of architectural barriers, and campaign was produced for employers and PWD on importance of employment and utilization of benefits that Employment Agency offers in this regard”, Cimbaljevic stated.

Petar Djukanovic, CCE programme coordinator, pointed out that ”there are around 11% of PWD in Montenegro, of which 5,000 are on the Employment Agency’s records as unemployed, and only a hundred of them are working. According to the most recent data of Employment Agency, only 194 employers are exercising thei right to subventions on salary for 310 persons with disability, of which 197 are employed for an indefinite period of time. Despite some improvements, still very little PWD is actively working, while statistics are rather unreliable”. He assessed that such research is ”important as indicator of the change in awareness and trend of these changes in order to design new and improve existing policies to be more effective in removing barriers that exist”. ”These barriers exist evidently and above all in our heads, and liberation from them is a manner to accomplish all potentials that PWD have, which are immense, primarily for benefit of them themselves, but also of us as a whole society”, concluded Djukanovic.

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Administrative committee should work in public and not in interest of DPS

Urgent and coordinated action of Administrative Committee of the Parliament of Montenegro and Agency for Prevention of Corruption (APC), upon “anonymous” reports regarding potential conflict of interest of members of the RTCG Council, is raising our suspicion and concern that this is a politically-instructed action of both organs ordered by the ruling party, with an objective to return RTCG back under their direct control. Therefore, after announcement of procedure for dismissal in the Committee of the Parliament managed by DPS, we invite domestic and international public to carefully follow further development of this situation and conduct of Administrative Committee, which should now determine itself upon decisions of Agency for Prevention of Corruption.

This suspicion is based on selectivity of conduct of both aforementioned organs.

Administrative Committee has in previous years, especially in procedures of election and appointment to various organs and agencies, demonstrated crude violation of the law, which was also confirmed by verdicts of judicial organs. Thus, the Administrative Committee has legitimized itself as a working body of DPS, and not the Parliament, in which it should consistently defend legality of procedures and proceedings. Hence, it is hard to believe that urgent processing of “anonymous” reports is of “public interest for RTCG”, as Chairman of the Committee, Ljuidj Škrelja, tried to explain implausibly. »

Acknowledgment for work of Uljarević and CCE

Executive director of the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Daliborka Uljarević, was appointed for a member of the newly established Western Balkans Advisory Committee (WBAC) of the global Open Society Foundations (OSF). Uljarević was invited by Christopher Stone, President of the Global Board of the Open Society Foundations, on behalf of George Soros, President of the Foundation and the Global Board itself.

This Committee will function as an advisory body for dialogue between foundations in the Western Balkans and the OSF, analyzing common political and social trends in the region and advising national foundations, OSF programmes, the European Advisory Committee and, when relevant, the Global Board. The Committee will also identify possibilities of regional cooperation between foundations and exchange of experiences, evaluate regional work of OSIFE network programmes and promote cooperation among foundations. Finally, the Committee will provide strategic coordination between five foundations in the region and provide space for planning what the OSF can further achieve in the region.

Time and expertise of the members of this Committee are of vital importance for functioning of national foundations in the countries of the Western Balkans, assessed Christopher Stone in a letter to Uljarević, noting that since launching the first foundation, Soros relied on opinions of independent experts in philanthropic efforts to improve areas in which he acted. »