Corruption at local level continues to smoothly expand

On the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day, the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls on Montenegrin competent institutions to finally position fight against corruption as its as its priority, especially given the devastating consequences of corruption that we constantly witness and the limitations it puts on overall democratization and Europeanization process. We also point out that fight against corruption at the local level is marginalized, but very important.

Serious deficiencies in the fight against corruption are also noted by the European Commission 2019 Report for Montenegro, as well as the Non-Paper on state of affairs in Chapters 23 and 24. They emphasize, in a negative context, judiciary and prosecution, but also work of the Anti-Corruption Agency. Party engineering cannot build institutions that will be credible and have professional capacity to produce track record, and this becomes clear to all. In this context, as expected, trust into institutions that should be the pillars of comprehensive fight against corruption is decreasing.

Citizens are most directly affected by corruption at the local level. Unfortunately, anti-corruption mechanisms have not demonstrated any effect so far. According to official data, 696 bodies out of a total of 711 (or 97.89%), from 2016 to the end of 2018, adopted integrity plans. Hence, there are large number of those who have formally fulfilled their obligation, but this form did not reflect into essence. Also, there are great discrepancies in the perceptions and actions of the competent authorities and interested non-governmental organizations, media, citizens and other entities, thus strengthening the existing gap instead of uniting forces in the fight against corruption. »

FAST FORWARD 2019 brings new provocative stories and greatest number of premiers up to now

This year’s X jubilee edition of the Human Rights Film Festival FAST FORWARD Montenegro has its thematic focus on dealing with the past, gender equality and LGBT rights, with numerous crosscutting contemporary human rights challenges communicated through impressive most recently produced films. FAST FORWARD 2019 brings the greatest number of premieres so far, but also an exhibition and series of panel discussions.

FAST FORWARD 2019 will be opened on Tuesday, 10 December – the International Human Rights Day, at 20h00 with the film THE DIARY OF DIANA B, directed by Dana Budisavljevic, the first woman to receive the Golden Arena for directing at the Pula Film Festival since 1957. This film has strongly shaken audiences across the region, while critics are giving it the best mark. It is the true story of the best people in the worst times. Diana Budisavljevic and her husband, a doctor, daughters and a newly born grandson live the life of a high-class civic from Zagreb. In the fall of 1941, she learned that Jewish women and Serb women were being taken to the detention camps where they were starving and sick. The Jewish municipality sends aid to the Jews, but no one cares about the Serbs. It initiates and leads an action that will save more than 10,000 children from the safe death in the Ustasha camps by the end of the war. Thanks to Diana’s diary, which was found by her granddaughter after her death, the heroic role of a woman convinced that her life was no more valuable than the life of the innocent persecuted. »

Concerning silence of prosecutions about the attack on the journalist

The Centre for Civic Education (CCE) condemns the attack on the journalist of the daily ‘Dan’, Vladimir Otasevic, which, according to this daily paper occurred on 3 December 2019, at shopping mall ‘Delta City’. Physical violence cannot and should not be a response to any act of a journalists, especially if it concerns public interest that guided that journalist. The CCE urges the Prosecutorial Council to urgently investigate whether behaviour of the prosecutor Milos Soskic is in accordance with the Code of Ethics for State Prosecutors and consenquently to process this case. Also, the CCE calls upon the management of the Police administration, as well as the Council for the civil control of the police work, to make their position towards the behavior of the police officer who was involved in this incident.

It is a public interest to inform citizens of Montenegro with whom state prosecutors are in company and to what extent it contributes to the integrity of the Prosecutor’s Office, particularly bearing in mind that there is a need to work on raising the extremely low level of trust into Prosecutor’s Office, as recently and rightly has been pointed out by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Zoran Pazin. We express concern about the fact that one prosecutor silently observed the attack on a journalist, regardless of the form and intensity of the attack. From professional and ethical, as well as patriotic standpoint, it is the prosecutor who should at least try to prevent such a conflict. The question is: would such a prosecutor observe if, for example, someone attacking his colleague or the harassment of journalists became common in this country? Is the problem even greater when members of police forces are involved? And does this only contribute to the continuous decline of Montenegro in all international rankings that measure the level of media freedom, but also the manner in which the state and its institutions protect journalists? »

Increasing inclusion of people with disabilities by lowering barriers

On the occasion of December 3 – International Day of People with Disabilities, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) reminds on inadequate position of people with disabilities (PWD) in Montenegro, and above all in the exercise of basic rights in education, employment, health care and movement. The CCE calls on the relevant institutions to work together to find modalities for consistent implementation of the legal framework for the protection of people with disabilities in order to strengthen the inclusion of this group in Montenegrin society.

It is concerning that in 2019 we still receive warnings from the EU, but also from other international instances, that the legal framework for the protection of people with disabilities is not adequately implemented which puts significant number of persons with disabilities in the position of second-class citizens. CCE surveys confirm the worrying incidence, as 82% of citizens say that the position of people with disabilities in Montenegro is worse than that of average citizens. PWDs are an important resource, but a resource that is neglected due to prejudice against this group and denial of opportunity while hiding behind financial allocations for disability cash benefits. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the key points at which the position of the PWD can be improved and more strongly advocated for employment and the principle of independent living of the PWD. The European Commission also warns us in its 2019 Montenegro Report on the need to establish adequate and transparent system of spending funds from the Fund for the Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of PWD. »