Additionl efforts needed for efficient and effective fight against corruption

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the occasion of 9 December – the International Anti-Corruption Day – appeals to the authorities and institutions that are in charge for the implementation of the anti-corruption laws to fully and objectively apply all existing mechanisms to face this problem that significantly burdens the development of Montenegrin society.

The CCE notes that a lack of political will and inadequate implementation of the necessary measures is still apparent, as well as the lack of administrative and other capacities of responsible institutions in the fight against this problem.

There is a discussion going on in Montenegro about existence of corruption and the need to create an appropriate institutional response for more than a decade. There has been a large number of adopted or changed laws, strategies, action plans, followed by establishment of a number of new institutions (Administration for Inspection Affairs, Commission for the Prevention of Conflict of Interest, Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, National Commission for the Implementation of the Strategy for the Fight against Corruption and Organized Crime), in addition to those which have already had this issue within their area of responsibility (Ministry of Interior, Police Department, Ministry of Justice, Supreme State Prosecution, the judicial system). These legal and strategic texts are being poorly enforced, and institutions have proved to be insufficiently committed to the fight against corruption, along with the disturbing trend of selective access to cases. The lack of willingness or inability of the judiciary to prosecute cases in which high-ranking officials are involved clearly shows the unwillingness to enter the combat against the most dangerous forms of corruption.

European Commission’s Progress Report for Montenegro 2013 notes: „Corruption remains prevalent in many areas and continues to be a serious problem. The implementation of the relevant legislative framework has shown a number of shortcomings, which require further legislative action. The capacity of supervisory institutions in charge of checking political financing and conflict of interest still needs to be enhanced. Increased efforts are needed to establish a credible track record of investigation, prosecution and conviction in corruption cases, including high-level cases… The areas of construction and spatial planning, education, healthcare and public procurement continue to be extremely vulnerable to corruption… Frequent changes to the relevant legislation, slow processing of high-profile cases of corruption and the quashing of verdicts hinder the effectiveness of the fight against corruption… The acquittal rates at first instance and in the appeal courts are high. Shortcomings with regard to the independence and accountability of the judicial system remain a serious matter of concern and hamper the fight against corruption…”.

The CCE has, within its research, “How much is invested in the fight against corruption and organized crime in Montenegro, and whether the results in this direction are visible?”, obtained the information that from 2007 until 2012 for project activities of key institutions in the fight against corruption and organized crime, and only from direct allocations from the budget of Montenegro and IPA funds at the national level, the amount of 36,582,698. 93 EUR has been invested. When resources from regional IPA funds, and those of the EU member states, the USA, etc. are added to this, we reach the minimum of 80 million EUR invested in the fight against corruption and organized crime, but without any substantial results in the form of final judgments, and what is more worrying, without establishing responsibility for lack of these results within the relevant institutions.

The CCE estimates that a continuous raising of awareness about this problem is important, as well as encouragement of citizens to report cases of corruption themselves thus contributing to the fight against this devastating problem. In this part, the CCE constantly receives calls regarding corruption in education, corruption that the inspection authorities are in charge of, and corruption at the local level in 14 municipalities. However, in order that these efforts ultimately have an adequate result, it is necessary to establish a strong, effective and professional institutions that will perform this task in the interest of all citizens of Montenegro, so that they can regain lost confidence in the entire legal system.

Tamara Milaš, Programme Associate