Council for protection against discrimination to open a dialogue with NGO sector

Members of the Council for protection against discrimination, Daliborka Uljarević, executive director of the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and Milan Šaranović, Director General of the Centre for Anti-discrimination EKVISTA, upon recent events that have publically revealed the lack of adequate relations of majority in the Council towards the NGO sector, sent a proposal for organization of the new round table of the Council for protection against discrimination to the Council President and the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Mr Milo Đukanović.

In the explanation of the proposal its is underlined that the meeting, held on 20 January 2014, on the topic “Human Rights and Protection against Discrimination in 2013 Progress Report on Montenegro“, and on which date, programme and participants the Council did not decide during its regular meeting but the information with a basic framework and part of confirmed participants was just delivered to the Council, did not justify its purpose for which it was proposed for the Annual Programme of the Council for Protection against Discrimination for 2013, and consequently they suggested organisation of a new round table during the first quarter of 2014 in the form of an open discussion.

In their opinion, the meeting held in January was supposed to be a dialogue where all members of the Council would participate and in an open discussion, with respect for all attendees, exchange their opinion on the implementation of the legal framework in the field of prevention and sanctioning of discrimination in Montenegro, the effectiveness of existing mechanisms, real challenges that Montenegro faces in the fight against discrimination and the contribution of the Council to that fight, as well as the picture that NGOs and international subjects have about the Council. «Unfortunately, none of that was accomplished and irresponsible moderation of the meeting by Jovan Kojičić, the secretary of the Council, caused revolt of the part of NGO sector that, as a sign of protest, left the meeting», it is stated in the explanation.

Also, proposal notes that later improper attempts of disqualification of NGOs, who made legitimate act of protest, by the state employee – secretary of the Council Kojičić caused a further damage of the reputation of the Council in NGO sector, especially since none of the members of the Council from the Government did distance themselves from it so far. «In that way, the belief that the Government creates climate that encourages discrimination and discrediting of the part of NGO sector which is perceived as misfit is reinforced. To this belief, the irresponsible statements by Kojičić contribute very much because he started dividing NGOs into relevant and irrelevant according to publicly unknown criteria, where the irrelevant NGOs are the ones who left the round table, respectively the ones who wanted a dialogue, not a monologue», Uljarević and Šaranović are explicit.

At the end of this initiative, members of the Council Šaranović and Uljarević appeal to the Council not to collectively include into «creation of the hostile climate towards NGOs, which was before created towards critically oriented media, the ones that are suffering numerous and violent attacks now», and recall the Council «to do everything in its power to prevent the implementation of the same scenario of different attacks and the lack of protection of NGO activists who have critical attitude.»

Svetlana Pešić, programme associate