Government wants an even more stronger influence on Judicary

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) assesses that the Montenegrin accession process to the EU more and more depends on track record which Montenegro establishes, or not, in meeting measures from the Action plan (AP) for chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental rights).

CCE reminded that it was precisely because of the limited results from previous period, the bearers of process resorted to innovation and amendment of AP for Chapter 23, and did so only when European Commission (EC) pointed out that the AP was too ambitious, without clear and measurable indicators and without a budget allocations, which lead to the low level of its fulfilment. Same remarks, from the beginning of process, came from the NGO representatives, that participate in Working group for preparation of negotiations for Chapter 23. But, like it was previously seen, Government representatives chose to neglect remarks that came from NGOs, but accepted them when EC addressed them.

When it considered the proposal of modified Action plan for Chapter 23, Government adopted conclusions during the session held on 19 February 2015. Conclusion 2, which states “it is necessary to preserve the initiative of Government through corresponding legislative activity, regarding the submission of proposal for dismissal of ones who occupy state-prosecutor and judicial positions due to inadequate and irresponsible relationship towards state priorities regarding the area of rule of law, as Government perceives them”, is concerning. Conclusion, conceived in this manner, could indicate on the intention of Government to influence the work of judiciary in a direct manner, and consequently deteriorate the progress of Montenegro in this area, as well as the overall negotiation process.

Namely, such conclusion of the Government comes upon the continious remarks by EU, related to inappropriate political influence on judiciary in Montenegro. And precisely that basic intention of judiciary reform, at least in strategic documents, is to achieve independence and disable political influence, which was previously attempted through amendments of Constitution and new legislative norms, related to different manner in which members of Judiciary Council, Prosecutor Council, Supreme State Prosecutor are elected and etc. And in addition to all these changes, the Government still succeeded in preserving certain level of initiative when it comes to dismissal of holders of judiciary function, by having its direct representative in Judiciary Council, in form of minister of justice. This solution was introduced contrary to recommendation of the Venice Commission: “Presence of minister of justice in Council is an issue which causes certain level of concern when it comes to issues related to removal and disciplinary measures, undertaken in relation to first instance court judges, appellate courts judges and prosecutors”. Finally, it can be seen that even this does not satisfy the Government, based on provided conclusion, and that there is some unconcealed intention to maintain influence, which is intolerable and contrary to all standards, to which that same Government rhetorically aspires.

Ana Vujošević, programme coordinator