How much does the Government of Montenegro gain through one unconstitutional Law?

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) recently presented its report “Three Years of Violation of the Constitution – Who Is Responsible?“ which informed the public about the part of the damage made to citizens by unconstitutional implementation of the new Law on Misdemeanors, as well as about the fact that the Constitutional Court stays on the side of the Government instead of protecting the public interest.

Among other, in that report was published the information that 6, 257 455.59 EUR was charged on the basis of fines for the period from the implementation of the new Law on Misdemeanors from 1 September 2011 to 14 May 2014, based on the data from the Register of Fines. It is emphasized that the Register does not include all the records, but only the amounts related to charge of fines based on the decisions of misdemeanor judges, whose decisions are unconstitutional because they themselves are not elected according to the manner prescribed by the Constitution.

Additionally, by using the mechanisms defined by the Free Access to Information Law, CCE found the information the the amount of misdemeanor warrant fines of the all state administration bodies, who pronounced the sanctions based on the penalty provisions of other laws and Law on Misdemeanors, is much higher and with increasing tendency, which makes senseless preventive side of this Law. According to this uptrend of pronounced misdemeanor fines, there will be no more misdemeanor forgiveness or warning for mild violations, but the misdemeanor warrants will be pronounced with the prescribed amount of fine, most likely the highest one.

More precisely, this could be presented in the following years and data:

• 01/09/2011 – 31/12/2011 the total amount of pronounced fines was 2, 169 385.50 € of which 1. 569 197, 20 € was charged;

• In 2012 the total amount of pronounced fines was 10, 834 632.65 € of which 7, 090 709.61 € was charged. During 2012, according to the budget item fine and seized property benefit, the contribution to the budget of 7, 220 074. 40€ was planned which was almost achieved;

• In 2013 the total amount of pronounced fines was 20, 394 709. 25€ of which 9, 939 786. 01 € was charged. In 2013, according to the budget item fine and seized property benefit, the contribution to the budget of was planned 8,511 345.52 € which means that the planned amount was significantly exceeded.

Finally, based on misdemeanor warrants of all state administration bodies from the beginning of the implementation of the new Law on Misdemeanors (1/09/2011) until 31 December 2013, i.e. for only two years and four months it was charged 18,599 692.8€.

Enormous growth of pronounced fines according to the misdemeanor warrants (in 2013 compared to 2012 almost 88.23%) and consequently the growth of charges on this basis (u 2013. compared to 2012. Increased for 40.18%), indicates that the Government of Montenegro opts for extremely repressive approach in implementation of this Law as it would fill in the budget and that way compensate for many losses which were the consequence of irresponsible decisions of the same Government. That way, the citizens of Montenegro are again the ones who pay the bill. This could be seen as the motive of the Government to continue using its influence on the Constitutional Court in order not to let it decide on the Initiative of Constitutionality of Specific Provisions of the Law on Misdemeanors which CCE submitted to the Constitutional Court almost three years ago.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Programme Coordinator