The Constitutional Court should make decisions according to the Constitution

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) assess that the Constitutional Court of Montenegro violated the Law on the Constitutional Court because it did not continue with the process of decision making based on the Initiative of CCE to review the constitutionality of the Law on Misdemeanors. The Constitutional Court has provided more than enough time until now to the Government of Montenegro, as the bearer of that Law – 22 months since the submission of the Initiative – in which the Government could have removed the disputed unconstitutionality and illegality.

The fact that the Government in due course has not taken any action on the issue of the disputed provisions of the Law on misdemeanors, obliged the Constitutional Court, according to the Law on the Constitutional Court, to act urgently. The Constitutional Court must respect the laws in force until the new ones are enacted, and is due to decide on their constitutionality and legality, when there are legitimate reasons for dispute. This is particularly referring to the provisions that are at the expense of basic human rights and freedoms of citizens, pursuant to Article 50 of the Rules of Procedure of the Constitutional Court. Therefore, the CCE Initiative must have been taken into priority consideration.

In addition, the rights of the citizens of Montenegro are drastically violated by such “silence” of the Constitutional Court. Thus there should not be any surprise concerning public assessments on serious doubts about the inappropriate political interference on the work of the Constitutional Court.

As a reminder, in the past three years of so called “transitional” period, according to data from the Register of fines, which generates final court decisions on the parties, 439 persons were sentenced to prison and all these sanctions are enforceable. These prison sentences, which are the most severe sanctions in our legal system, have not been brought before a court of law – but before the executive bodies! In that manner, the executive and not the judicial authority (namely, without a court order), sent to jail 439 people. This has jeopardized one of the basic human rights – the right to freedom, because these people did not have an independent and impartial trial, which is a grave violation of the Constitution of Montenegro. The consequences are irreversible, because if the Constitutional Court challenged provisions on the appointment of judges declared unconstitutional for those persons who are in prison or psychiatric institution based on these imposed sanctions / measures will not be able to make restitution in terms of time detention of these individuals. However, although the CCE stated all of this in its Initiative even in 2012 and followed up with subsequent requests and proposals for priority decision in accordance with Article 50 of the Rules of the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court up to now ignores this question of indisputable public interest, and for the fact that 439 persons in Montenegro were sent to prison in an unconstitutional manner yet none has not been held responsible.

The Constitutional Court should judge by the Constitution and not follow the instructions of the Government, since it is clear that in this case the Government directly violates the rights of its own citizens and the Constitutional Court silently observe that rather than to protect citizens. The damage is already irreparable; and further failure of the Constitutional Court can reasonably raises the question: to whose interests does the Constitutional Court work?

The CCE request the Constitutional Court to comply with the Law on the Constitutional Court and to proceed with the decision making according to the CCE initiative in which it will decide whether the challenged provisions of the Law on misdemeanor are constitutional or not.

Snežana Kaluđerović, programme coordinator