Centre for Civic Education (CCE) informs the public that the Parliament of Montenegro, the Government of Montenegro and the Ministry of Justice refused to give an opinion to the Constitutional Court on the initiative to review the constitutionality of the Law on Misdemeanors.
We recall that CCE submitted, about three months ago, to the Constitutional Court the initiative to review the constitutionality of the Law on Misdemeanors, pointing out that the 68 judges are appointed by the Government of Montenegro, contrary to the Constitution, which states that judges in Montenegro are elected by the Judicial Council. The Constitutional Court still did not take a position concerning this matter.
From 6 January, 2013 the new Law on Road Traffic Safety come into force, and offenses under this law will be still subject to judges for misdemeanor offences, contrary to the Constitution, which guarantees citizens that they cannot be brought before a judge appointed by the Government. Besides the drastic increase in fines, novelty in the law is also the fact that for serious offences it prescribes imprisonment of up to two months imposed by a judge for misdemeanor offences, who is appointed by the Government of Montenegro, contravention to the Constitution which stipulates only judges elected by the Judicial Council.
The task of the Constitutional Court is to protect constitutionality. The legality of the seven judges of the Court shall issue an interim measure for the suspension of all acts and actions taken on the basis of the Law on Misdemeanors and other laws, which provide accountability for Misdemeanor offences such as the Law on Road Traffic Safety. Each citizen who is or will be punished by the decision of judges for misdemeanor offences may file a constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Court, due to the fact that jeopardize his right to trial by an independent court.
Under the Law on Misdemeanors the judges can impose imprisonment sentences, also very serious protective measures, such as compulsory treatment of alcoholics and drug addicts, confiscation of objects, prohibition of activities. Therefore, judges appointed by the executive power should not act under this Law. In this way on a daily basis the rights of thousands of citizens are violated, and the decisions made in this way are unknown to the court systems of the developed countries of Europe.
For the first year of implementation of the Law on Misdemeanors the state imposed fines of more than 8 millions of euros, of which it has collected 4.5 millions. It is estimated that the new Law on Road Traffic Safety will substantially increase this figure, so it is inconceivable that the most important institutions of the system, that through this law are charging from citizens multimillion amounts, do not find it necessary to give the opinion to the Constitutional Court whether the Law is in accordance with the Constitution or not.
We remind that the judges for misdemeanor offences, whose appointments made by the Government of Montenegro we challenged as unconstitutional in the first year of implementation of the Law on Misdemeanors, imposed more than 26,000 convictions. Appointment and dismissal of judges for misdemeanor offences (68 of them) by the Government of Montenegro violated the right of citizens to a trial before an independent tribunal, as guaranteed by the Constitution of Montenegro and the European Convention on Human Rights and Freedoms.
More than three months passed since CCE submitted the Initiative to the Constitutional Court, and since it contains important and detailed information for decision-making, and the Parliament, the Government and the Ministry of Justice refused to give an opinion on the constitutionality of the Law on Misdemeanors, CCE hopes that the Constitutional Court will soon decide, respecting the principle of decision-making within a reasonable time.
Danilo Ajković, Programme Associate