Response to the position of the Minister of Interior Affairs that possession of Montenegrin citizenship and residence is a legitimate requirement for membership of NGO representatives in working bodies of the Government

NGOs Human Rights Action (HRA), Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Center for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), Women’s Rights Center and Juventas on 28 April 2015 submitted to the Deputy Prime Minister for political system, foreign and interior policy Mr. Duško Marković the initiative for amending the Decree on the manner of and procedure for establishing cooperation between state administration bodies and non-governmental organisations in order to enable NGOs to propose members in the Government appointed working bodies (e.g. working bodies for drafting legislation) who do not hold Montenegrin citizenship and residence.

The Deputy Prime Minister forwarded this initiative to the Minister of Interior Affairs, Raško Konjević, who replied to it (his reply – in Montenegrin – is available here). He said that this was a legitimate restriction, as the working bodies “directly execute state administration tasks for which it is necessary to have a minimal legal bond between the State of Montenegro and member of the working group (citizenship and residence).” He reminded that hiring foreign experts who would assist the work of the working groups is possible, but not as members proposed by Montenegrin NGOs.

The NGOs submitting the initiative sent a letter on Friday, 15 May 2015, to the Deputy Prime Minister for political system, foreign and interior policy Mr. Duško Marković stating:

„We believe that minister Konjević speaks from a position of power without arguments responding to the arguments from the initiative. Unlike minister Konjević, we believe that citizenship and residence, which are hard to obtain in Montenegro, represent a maximum, not the minimum legal bond between Montenegro and a member of the working group. We believe that the minister did not explain the public interest which could justify preventing NGOs to nominate persons without Montenegrin citizenship, which for example reside in the territory of Montenegro, which have already proven they are committed to its prosperity, which undoubtedly possess the knowledge and experience required for the work in the working groups of the Government for working groups membership. We believe that the Government is obviously placing unnecessary barriers with such an attitude, depriving Montenegrin citizens to benefit from human potential that Montenegro de facto possesses. We would like to use this opportunity and remind that the law governing the acquisition of Montenegrin citizenship falls under restrictive legislation and that it is widely known that many people who have been living in Montenegro for a long time, working and contributing to our country are not yet eligible for citizenship. We urge the Government to look at this initiative once again and not give up easily on human capacities by raising unjustified administrative barriers. ”

Tea Gorjanc-Prelević, Executive director of Human Rights Action
Daliborka Uljarević, Executive director of Centre for Civic Education
Zlatko Vujović, President of the Centre for Monitoring and Research Management Board
Maja Raičević, Executive Director of Women’s Rights Center
Ivana Vujović, Executive Director of Juventas