International Human Rights Day – a reminder of how much more must be done in human rights protection

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the occasion of 10 December – the International Human Rights Day – indicates that the Montenegrin institutions need to be a lot more dedicated to promotion, advocacy and protection of human rights of all citizens.

During 2013, Montenegro has achieved certain positive progress in the area of human rights, especially rights of the LGBT community. Namely, the Government of Montenegro has adopted the Strategy for improving the quality of life for LGBT people until 2018 and provided a safe maintenance of two Pride Parades – in Budva and Podgorica. However, the level of homophobia amongst citizens is still high, violence and hate speech against individuals from the LGBT community continues, and the responsible institutions have not done enough to prosecute these crimes. Furthermore, discrimination against persons with disabilities and RAE population, particularly in terms of economic and social rights, as well as under-representation of women in decision-making process, remain problems for which Montenegrin state has not enough understanding.

In addition, attacks on journalists have continued, as well as practice of unperformed investigation or inadequate prosecution, which, along the discrimination against those media which are critically reporting on the work of the Government by the government institutions themselves, are affecting the restriction of freedom of expression.

Montenegro on the path of dealing with the past and condemnation of war crimes that occurred in this region is at standstill: crimes are being relativised, trials delayed, perpetrators covered up. This leads to deep disappointment of the victims in the justice system. The support that the highest state instances gave to the initiative for RECOM (Regional Commission for establishing the facts about all victims of war crimes and other serious human rights violations committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia) should be followed by specific actions in the country itself, which currently is missing.

The existence of political discrimination has acquired its place in the public discourse in 2013, but the authorities, particularly the prosecution, have not yet found the strength to professionally prosecute cases like the affair “Recording”. Furthermore, the Council for the Protection against Discrimination has precisely after the opening of this issue by representatives of civil society become a hermetically closed body whose complete further expediency is being brought in question.

The CCE estimates that climate for establishing the culture of human rights in Montenegro has deteriorated in the last period, and that greater efforts must be made by policy makers in order to promote more tolerant approach towards people with different opinion or those who are by any other personal feature different. In a democratic society, all citizens should have equal opportunities, to live without fear of hatred, violence or any other negative consequences only because they are different. The minimum standards of human rights is something below which we must not go.

The International Human Rights Day is being celebrated since 1950, namely, on 10 December – the day of signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations.

Svetlana Pešić, Programme Associate